As tensions with the European Union continued, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has decided to change his top representative in Brussels.
Carlo Calenda, the current Deputy Industry Minister, will replace Ambassador Stefano Sannino, sources said.
According to Italian media, the formal decision will be finalised during the meeting of the Council of Ministers today (20 January). Calenda is the first career politician to be named as envoy to Brussels, after a string of career diplomats.
Responding to last week’s comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who lamented there was no ‘interlocutor’ in Rome, Renzi wrote on Facebook on Tuesday (19 January) that Italy has regained its leadership role, and that those who do not like it must “deal with it”.
“Italy is increasingly open and attractive for international investment,” Renzi said, “with major global companies that have decided to bank on our country, like Cisco, whose chiefs I met this morning. (This is) the best answer to those who… would prefer to have us be weak and marginal, as often happened in the past, unfortunately. They should deal with it. Italy is back, (and it’s) more solid and more ambitious”.
A lawyer by training, Calenda served as head of customer relations at Ferrari, and was head of marketing at Sky. He later became director of Strategic and International Affairs at Confindustria during the Presidency of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
Calenda’s political career started with the Association Italia Futura, founded by Montezemolo, before he switched to Mario Monti’s Scelta Civica, with whom he ran for the 2013 election, without getting elected.
He was appointed as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Economic Development during the Enrico Letta government, and was reconfirmed by Matteo Renzi. Calenda only joined the Democratic Party very recently, in February 2015.
At the ministry, Calenda was in charge of China, and worked on the dossier for granting Beijing market economy status.
Meanwhile, one of the points of contention between the EU and Italy is state aid to steelmaker ILVA, which will be made the target of a probe today (20 January).