Romano Prodi, who served as President of the European Commission (EC) (1999–2004) and was twice Prime Minister of Italy (1996–1998; 2006–2008), is to give the keynote address on Monday 8 October 2018 at the Opening Ceremony of the International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference (7–12 October) in Rome, Italy. Mr Prodi has had an extensive career in academia, politics, business, international diplomacy and at the helm of international organisations.
Mr Prodi entered politics in 1978, when he was appointed Italy’s Minister of Industry. From 1982 to 1989, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), Italy's largest public holding company at the time. He was recalled to head the IRI in May 1993 and saw through the privatisation of a number of industrial, banking and service companies.
In 1995, Mr Prodi founded the Olive Tree centre-left coalition, which designated him as its candidate for premiership. The coalition won the 1996 election and, in May 1996, he was appointed Prime Minister. He remained in office until October 1998. The measures introduced by his Cabinet enabled Italy to meet the Maastricht criteria for joining the Eurozone.
Mr Prodi, an advocate of transparency, open debate and integration, then assumed command of the EC – the executive branch of the European Union – at a time of crisis, when the entire Commission had been dismissed in the wake of a corruption scandal. His appointment to President of the EC took a single hour, with a unanimous vote by all 15 EU Member States. During Mr Prodi’s tenure as President, the euro was introduced; the EU was enlarged by ten countries from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe; and the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was signed.
In the 2006 parliamentary elections in Italy, Mr Prodi again led the centre-left coalition to victory, and became Prime Minister, serving until 8 May 2008. After serving as Prime Minister for a second term, Mr Prodi created the Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation, of which he is President. The Foundation’s objective is to ‘face social, cultural, political issues in the world, developing and offering new proposals of cooperation in the International context’.
Mr Prodi has also served as Chairman of the United Nations-African Union High-level Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa (2008–2014), and in 2012, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Mr Prodi to the role of Special Envoy for the Sahel for a two-year term, with the mandate to shape and mobilise an effective UN and international response to the complex crisis plaguing the countries and people of the semiarid region of Western and North-Central Africa.
Having begun his academic career at the Department of Economics and at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Bologna in 1963, after graduating from the Faculty of Law of the Catholic University in Milan and the London School of Economics, Mr Prodi returned to academia. He has held teaching positions at Brown University (Professor-at-Large, 2009–2013) and at the China-Europe International Business School (Professor, 2010–2015), where he is now a Member of the Board.
Mr Prodi, a long-standing member of the Europe Advisory Council of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), has been awarded a number of recognitions and honorary degrees throughout his varied career. He will address delegates attending the 2018 IBA Annual Conference on Monday 8 October 2018 at 09h30 at the Roma Convention Center La Nuvola, Viale Asia, 00144 Rome, Italy and participate in an audience Q&A.
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