The Commissioner-designate for economy, Italian Paolo Gentiloni, has picked director-general of ECFIN, Marco Buti, to become his head of cabinet, three sources confirmed to EURACTIV.com.
Buti is an experienced European official who has lead the directorate-general for economic and financial affairs from the outset of the financial crisis in the second half of 2008.
By picking his compatriot, Gentiloni will add a safe pair of hands to deal with the complex issues expected in the new period, including the review of the stability and growth pact, and the oversight of the national budgets in the midst of the economic slowdown.
Gentiloni is scheduled to appear before the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Thursday (3 October) and be grilled by the MEPs.
One of the first issues both Italians will face is how to deal with Italy’s draft budget for next year, sent by the new coalition government in Rome, with a slight increase of the deficit agreed with Brussels (2.2% of GDP).
In his introductory comments written in the Spring forecast last May, Buti said that “in order to foster confidence it is important that countries with high debt put their debt-to-GDP ratios on a clear downward path over the medium term.”
But he added that “in those countries where fiscal space exists, it should be used by focusing on physical and intangible public investment,” especially innovation and education.
Buti stressed, just like the ECB recently did, that member states need to be prepared to stimulate the economy “if the risk of a sharper or more protracted slowdown materialises”.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]