Meet Mario Draghi’s 10 key ministers – POLITICO



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Italy is expected to get billions of euros from the European Union to help its pandemic-ravaged economy — now it just has to figure out how to spend them. 

To do that, newly installed Prime Minister Mario Draghi has tapped a team of technocrats, academics and politicians to help him dole out the money and reinvigorate an economy that has seen 20 years of virtually no growth and is sitting on the eurozone’s second-largest public debt. 

It’s a team that has come together in recent days, with some politicians being kept the dark on the appointments — many found out only at the last moment they were in. 

Draghi was sworn in as prime minister on Saturday, taking on the role at the request of President Sergio Mattarella after the last governing coalition collapsed over disagreements about the post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

On Wednesday, Draghi, a former European Central Bank president, is set to present his team’s plan in the Senate, where he is expected to secure a majority. Much of the strategy will revolve around how his government plans to allocate an expected €209 billion Italy has been earmarked from the EU’s recovery fund — the largest amount of any EU country.

Draghi is expected to use the money to transition Italy to a greener economy and fund long-term development projects. But his Cabinet ministers will be critical in determining exactly what projects get backing and which political priorities prevail. 

POLITICO has identified 10 appointees to watch, all of whom will play key roles in trying to keep Italy on the track to recovery.

Daniele Franco, finance minister

After a long career in senior positions in Italy’s central bank and financial institutions, Franco has been tapped as Draghi’s finance minister. But he will also serve as Draghi’s confidant. The two worked together at the Italian central bank, with Franco heading the bank’s research department while Draghi was the bank’s chair. 

Franco, 67, also knows how to deal with politicians, including some of his new Cabinet colleagues. 

As head of the General Accounting Office, he had to make sure that costly government policies complied with budget constraints. At one point, Franco clashed with Luigi Di Maio of the 5Star movement, now a Cabinet colleague in charge of foreign affairs, when he wouldn’t greenlight spending that Di Maio was pushing.

Earlier this week, Franco became the first minister of the Draghi Cabinet to (virtually) meet his EU colleagues, attending a Eurogroup gathering on Monday. His main challenges will be tax reform and Italy’s mounting public debt.

Luigi Di Maio, foreign minister

The 34-year-old former leader of the 5Stars, Di Maio is one of the ministers who brings continuity to Draghi’s cabinet. 

He has retained his place as foreign minister and was also the only person to have served as a Cabinet minister in both governments led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte — working with both the far-right League and the Democratic Party, as well as in the Draghi government.

Di Maio represents the establishment side of the anti-establishment 5Stars, which recently split over its decision to back Draghi: Alessandro Di Battista, leader of the 5Stars’ purist faction, left the movement in protest.

Roberto Speranza, health minister

Having already overseen Italians’ health during the pandemic, Speranza will now stay on as Draghi’s health minister. 

Speranza, 42, whose surname literally translates as “hope,” is Draghi’s only minister from the small leftist Free and Equal party, an offshoot of MPs who abandoned the Democratic Party. 

He was thrust into the spotlight last year when he became one of Europe’s first health ministers to deal with the coronavirus. Initially, Speranza faced criticism from his political opponents over the strict measures he enacted to curb the virus. 

Now Speranza is dodging bullets from a new ally, the far-right League — which has joined Draghi’s governing coalition — over his decision Sunday to stop the reopening of ski resorts.

Giancarlo Giorgetti, economic development minister

A graduate of Milan’s Bocconi University, Giorgetti has a direct line to Draghi, having known him for years.

The 54-year-old embodies the more moderate side of the League, serving as a contrast to party leader Matteo Salvini, who took an anti-EU line until a few weeks ago, although on Tuesday he refused to say the euro is “irreversible.” Giorgetti was essential in his party’s U-turn to support Draghi.

In Draghi’s Cabinet, Giorgetti will have to deal with political hot potatoes such as Alitalia, the ailing airline company that has cost taxpayers around €12.6 billion over the last 45 years.

Marta Cartabia, justice minister

One of just eight women in Draghi’s Cabinet, Cartabia is accustomed to male-dominated environments. She previously served as the first female president of Italy’s constitutional court. There, she worked to curb outside influences on the court and focused on promoting the court’s work to the public, overhauling its website and launching a podcast. 

A 57-year-old professor of constitutional law at Bocconi University, Milan, Cartabia has also taught at the EU’s European University Institute in Florence and in the U.S., helping her become established in international academic spheres.

As Draghi’s justice minister, Cartabia will work to streamline Italy’s laborious civil justice system, both to attract more outside investment and to meet criteria laid out in the EU’s recovery plans. She also may face political battles over efforts to reform Italy’s statute of limitations in criminal proceedings.

Luciana Lamorgese, interior minister

The 67-year-old is a technocrat who served in Italy’s most recent government, replacing Matteo Salvini as interior minister in 2019.

Lamorgese will have to deal with migration, one subject where the Draghi government could face some of the most toxic divisions. The League is advocating a hardline approach, wanting to close ports to migrant rescue vessels, which stands in contrast to the Democratic Party’s approach.  

After departing from his post, Salvini called for Lamorgese to step down, angry over a rise in sea arrivals, which tripled in 2020 from 2019, when Salvini was in power. According to analysts, however, Salvini mainly benefited from deals his predecessor had made with Libyan authorities and tribal chiefs to reduce migrant flow.

Vittorio Colao, digital transformation minister

A former global chief of Vodafone, Colao, 59, was recruited by Conte last year to head an expert task force created to devise a post-pandemic recovery plan — but the proposals were shelved. 

Now, Colao is returning to serve in Draghi’s government alongside two of his task force collaborators — Enrico Giovannini and Roberto Cingolani — suggesting the government could revisit his original blueprint, which called for “radical digitalization.”

During Colao’s 10-year run as head of Vodafone, he was jokingly dubbed “a benevolent dictator” as he transformed the company into Europe’s largest broadband provider. Before that, Colao led Vodafone Italy and worked as a telecoms-focused McKinsey consultant. He also has an MBA from Harvard University and served in the military with the Carabinieri.

Colao’s top priorities will be rolling out fast internet, fiber-optic connections and 5G nationwide to reduce digital inequality. He’ll also focus on digitizing sectors such as health care and e-learning.

Enrico Giovannini, infrastructure minister

As Draghi’s infrastructure minister, Giovannini will bring his experience as a statistician and advocate for economic equality measures. 

Giovannini, 63, served as labor minister under former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, proposing novel anti-poverty measures. Before that, as head of Italy’s statistics bureau, he introduced an index for measuring the country’s wellbeing that was based on economic fairness and sustainability, rather than GDP.

More broadly, Giovannini has advocated for environmental reforms that don’t place disproportionate economic burdens on poorer individuals. He has also argued against inconsistencies in government policy such as simultaneous tax breaks to both fossil fuel industries and electric car makers.  

Outside of government, Giovannini has served as chief statistician for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and founded the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development, or ASVIS. 

In Draghi’s Cabinet, Giovannini will likely focus on improving public transport — especially from the suburbs into cities — to reduce smog. He could also work on rolling out electric car charging stations and may back the TAV high-speed rail link to France.

Roberto Cingolani, ecological transition minister

Cingolani will head the newly created ecological transition ministry, leaving his role as the top physicist and chief technology officer at state-controlled defense giant Leonardo. 

Establishing such a green ministry was the main condition for the anti-establishment 5Star Movement to back Draghi’s government. 

This “super-ministry,” as the 5Stars call it, will oversee both the normal environmental portfolio as well as the energy portfolio. It will also chair a new inter-ministerial group tasked with making Italy’s recovery greener. 

Cingolani, 49, is not a member of any party but was part of Colao’s expert task force that advised Conte’s government on how to recover from the coronavirus crisis last summer.

His hardest task will be to remind fellow ministers that recovery money coming from Brussels should be spent on green investments.

Andrea Orlando, labor minister

Orlando will have the challenging task of stabilizing a pandemic-scarred jobs market. 

Coming from the center-left Democratic Party, Orlando, 52, has already been a Cabinet minister twice — first overseeing climate policy and then justice policy. In 2017, Orlando, a career politician, tried to win the leadership of the Democratic Party, only to be defeated by centrist Matteo Renzi. 

His most pressing issue will be a layoff ban set to expire in March, which has frozen Italy’s job market for almost one year.

CORRECTION: This article was updated to amend typographical errors and correct the number of women in the new Cabinet. There are eight female ministers.

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