Romano Prodi, Former Prime Minister of Italy & Former President of the European Commission as Distinguished Guest Online at the Entrepreneurial School®.
Europe will play an important role between USA and China in the future – this is the consistant message of Romano Prodi in the MCI Livetalk with Andreas Altmann, who moderated the conversation together with Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach.
Europe, USA & China
The relationship between Europe and the USA, which is based on shared democratic values, is as strong as ever. Decades of solidarity, Prodi said, are unmistakably present. However, at the same time, lively trade exchanges with China are growing. The European trade relationship with China will follow the existing successful relationships of Germany and France with the Asian country, Prodi said. This is a situation, that the administration under current U.S. President Joe Biden does not necessarily approve of, as the EU-China investment agreement and the threatened sanctions have shown.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption of the value chain have massively changed the relationships between the above mentioned economic powers. But Prodi also predicts competition in terms of high-tech equipment to be a challenge. This makes Europe's positioning between the two nations even more important.
Common foreign policy
For Prodi, the EU's biggest problem clearly lies in a failed common foreign policy. Too many individual opinions and interests as well as the VETO law make a unified foreign policy difficult, if not impossible. This is visible in European migration policy. "We are putting brakes on ourselves," Prodi said. He therefore sees the implementation of a common foreign policy as very difficult. "Only in a deep crisis will something change," he explains further. He does not wish for such a crisis, of course, but nothing will change without a crisis.
Prodi, on the other hand, sees change as essential in the European Union's environmental policy. Europe must set itself high goals on issues such as the Green Deal. Measures in environmental policy need investment. Prodi sees these as immensely important in order not to upset the population of the European Union.
Migration is a sensitive issue within the European Union, Prodi said. Policy is unlikely to change, he says, but compromises can be made. The boom in African populations is inevitable. "New forms of mass communication are increasingly driving the young African population to European shores," Prodi says. This population growth and how it is dealt with will be a major issue for the future of Europe, Prodi says.
Romano Prodi was born in Scandiano, Italy, in 1939 and studied Law at the Catholic University of Milan. After taking postgraduate courses at the Universites of Milan and Bologna and the London School of Economics he was visiting professor at Harvard University and the Stanford Research Institute. He began his academic career at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bologna where he worked as assistant (1963), associate (1966) and then as a full Professor (1971–1999) of Industrial Organization and Industrial Policy.
From 1974 to 1978, he was the chairman of Il Mulino publishing house. In 1981 he founded Nomisma, one of Italy's leading economic research societies and chaired its Scientific Committee until 1995. From November 1978 to March 1979, Romano Prodi was the Italian Minister of Industry. In February 1995, he founded the Ulivo Coalition and ran as a candidate for federal elections in April 1996 in which the Ulivo Coalition defeated the Center-Right coalition. The Prodi government remained in office until October 1998, during which it succeeded in making the country join the Euro currency.
In March 1999, the European Council elected Romano Prodi to serve as President of the European Commission in Brussels. During his presidency, the European Union adopted some of the historic decisions of the European Union (e.g. introduction of the Euro, enlargement to 25). In 2005, Romano Prodi was elected leader of the "Unione" Center-Left coalition, heading the Ulivo list for the general election in 2006. From 05/2006 until 05/2008 he was again Prime Minister of Italy. Since then, Romano Prodi has been the President of the Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation and has also been named Chairman of the United Nations–African Union High Level Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa.
Romano Prodi’s career has led to a vast oeuvre of scientific publications as well as numerous prestigious honours, distinctions and acknowledgements. He lives in Bologna, is married and has two sons and four grandchildren.