Antonio Tajani (Italian pronunciation: [anˌtɔːnjo taˈjaːni]) (born 4 August 1953) is an Italian and European politician who has served as President of the European Parliament since January 2017. He previously served as one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2016, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Vice-President of the European Commission from 2010 to 2014 and European Commissioner for Transport from 2008 to 2010. He has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2014 and previously from 1994 to 2008.
Studies and career in the air force and journalism
After attending Liceo Torquato Tasso in Rome, he earned a degree in Law at the Sapienza University of Rome.
Tajani was an officer in the Italian Air Forces. After attending a specialized air defense course at Borgo Piave di Latina, he became radar controller for air defense at the Italian Air Force radar base of San Giovanni Teatino.
Tajani has been a professional journalist, editor of parliamentary affairs for the weekly Il Settimanale, presenter of Rai Radio 1 news programme, and head of the Rome editorial office of the newspaper Il Giornale. He was special envoy to Lebanon, the Soviet Union and Somalia. Besides Italian, he speaks English, French and Spanish.
He is married, with two children.
Early political career
In his youth Tajani was a militant of Fronte Monarchico Giovanile (Youth Monarchist Front), a student organization of the Monarchist party of Italy. He has consistently advocated the return from exile of the House of Savoy (which was banned by the Italian Constitution until 2002, when the Italian Parliament lifted the ban).
He was one of the founders of the Forza Italia party in 1994, and then regional coordinator of the party in Lazio from 1994 in 2005.
In Berlusconi's first government (1994–95), he was a spokesman for the Prime Minister.
In 1996 he ran for parliament in the Alatri college, but obtained only 45.3% of the votes and was defeated by the representative of the Olive Tree.
In 2001, Tajani was a candidate for mayor of Rome for the coalition of the House of Freedom, but was defeated by Walter Veltroni after polling 47.8% of votes.
Since 2002 (the year of the Estoril Congress) Tajani has been one of 10 vice-presidents of the European People's Party. He was re-elected at the Rome Congress in 2006 and at the Bonn conference in 2009, and then again at the Bucharest Congress in 2012.
Member of the European Parliament
In 1994 Tajani was elected a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and reelected in 1999 and 2004. He was chairman of the delegation of Forza Italia to the European Parliament from June 1999 until May 2008.
At the 2004 European elections he was elected from a list of Forza Italia in the Central college, receiving 122,000 preferences. He was admitted to the European People's Party.
Tajani was an MEP for Central Italy with the Forza Italia party from 2004 to 2008 and sat on the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was a substitute for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and a member of the Delegation for relations with Israel.
He was a member of the European Convention, which drafted the text of the European Constitution that never entered into force.
European Commissioner for Transport
On 8 May 2008, he was appointed as Italy's EU Commissioner by newly elected Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, replacing Franco Frattini, who became the new Italian foreign minister. Tajani received the Commissioner for Transport portfolio. He was officially approved in his post by the European Parliament on 18 June 2008 with a vote of 507 to 53 with 64 abstentions. In this role, Tajani promoted the rescue plan for Alitalia, through the involvement of private funding in the airline capital.
Tajani oversaw the drafting of new EU Regulation relating to transport, including the defence of the rights of passengers in air transport. Thanks to this regulation, which came into force in December 2009, passengers receive assistance and reimbursement in case of denied boarding, cancellation or delay of the flight. These norms are applicable both to passengers leaving from an airport of the European Union and to passengers flying to Europe from extra-EU countries.
European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
In 2009 he was reappointed as a member of Italian nationality of the second Barroso Commission, as European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship; he remained one of the four Vice-Presidents of the Commission. The confirmation of Tajani followed the decline of the candidacy of Massimo D'Alema as High Representative for Foreign Policy. For Tajani an alternative foreshadowed would have been a candidacy as president of the Lazio Region.
On 15 April 2010 a headline in the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, proclaimed that European Commissioner Antonio Tajani had unveiled a plan declaring tourism a human right. In introducing his plan, Tajani stated, "Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life." EurActiv, an independent media portal, criticized the article by The Sunday Times as an example of misleading information about the EU which appears in the British press and is then picked up by other Anglo-Saxon media. EurActiv notes that "the article on The Sunday Times never quotes the Commissioner as having made such a statement".
Michel Barnier was twice Acting Commissioner in his stead, from 19 April 2014 – 25 May 2014 while he was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and from 1 July 2014 – 16 July 2014 after he took up his seat.
The New Industrial Policy
In October 2012 Antonio Tajani launched his campaign for a new industrial revolution in Europe in order to flip the tendency of the economic crisis and revamp industry. The concrete goals of this initiative are bringing the value of industry to as much as 20% of GDP by 2020, creating new jobs, and promoting sustainable growth.
Late Payments Directive
The new Late Payments Directive 2011/7/EU that has the goal of countering payment delays in commercial transactions, was adopted in 2011. Following the adoption, Tajani urged a prompt implementation in all Member States, even before the official deadline set for 16 March 2016. In order to further accelerate the process, he launched an information campaign across the 27 Member States that takes place between October 2012 and December 2014. In March 2013 Tajani, along with Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the European Commission is ready to acknowledge "mitigating factors" on the assessment of compliance with the deficit and debt criteria, in the context of a plan for the disposal of old debts of the public administration to enterprises.
Simplified Cars Registration
During 2012 Tajani led the drafting of a proposal to simplify the procedure to register cars in another Member State within the European Union. Concretely, the proposal, which should come into force in 2014, aims at reducing to a minimum the administrative procedures necessary to register cars, vans, trucks and buses in another Member State. Furthermore, it will be impossible to register in another country a stolen vehicle, thanks to the enhanced cooperation of the competent authorities at the European level.
The EU fight against counterfeiting
In order to support the European fight against counterfeiting of industrial goods, in December 2012, Vice President Tajani launched an awareness campaign for the citizens. Moreover, in February 2013 the European Commission further reinforced market surveillance through a plan to reinforce the controls of the products in the internal market. In particular, the "Made in" is part of the discussion on counterfeiting, especially for the textile sector in Italy. The package presented by Tajani and Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy introduces among other things the denomination 'Made In' for products manufactured in and outside the EU, so as to better supervise what enters into the European market.
Communication CARS 2020
With the goal of promoting competitiveness and sustainable development of the European automobile industry, Tajani presented in November 2012 the Action Plan CARS2020. The Plan focuses on a transition towards more energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, as well as technologies and advanced materials for the production.
EU Entrepreneurship Action Plan
Among the actions that Tajani undertook to foster growth and regain higher levels of employment, it is worth mentioning an Action Plan aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, through specific measures to facilitate business transfers, increase access to finance, and give a second chance following a bankruptcy.
The 50,000 Tourists Initiative
Another of Tajani's initiatives was a project called "50,000 Tourists", launched on 1 June 2011, which focussed on promoting low-season tourism between Europe and South America, encouraging cooperation between European governments, the tourism industry, and airline companies.
The Travelers Decalogue and the Visa Initiative
The initiatives connected to tourism include a Travelers Decalogue in August 2012, a series of rules to travel in full safety. Additionally, in November 2012 Tajani presented, in collaboration with the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Cecilia Malmström, a Communication to examine how the implementation and development of a common policy in terms of visas could support the EU growth by providing more chances for foreign travelers to visit the Union.
Chief of the EU-Brazil working group
In March 2013 the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso has appointed Tajani to lead the new EU-Brazil working group, which will also include the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The group will be in charge of evaluating the opportunities for industrial cooperation between the EU and Brazil, particularly in the most technological sectors.
A Steel Action Plan for Europe
On 11 June 2013 Tajani presented the first Action Plan for the Steel Industry since 1977 to help this sector face today’s challenges and lay the foundations for future competitiveness by fostering innovation, creating growth and jobs. The Commission proposed to support the demand for European steel both at home and abroad, by acting to ensure that European steel producers have access to third countries in a fair trade market.
In a letter dated 12 February 2013, Environment commissioner Janez Potocnik warned Tajani about “widespread concerns that [car] performance has been tailored tightly to compliance with the test cycle in disregard of the dramatic increase in emissions outside that narrow scope”. Tajani declined to take action or report on Potocnik's concerns, until the Volkswagen emissions scandal confirmed the commissioner's concerns in 2015. At the subsequent EMIS hearing on the subject, Tajani claimed that he was not informed of the issue at the time.
In the eve of his election as President of the European Parliament, LGBTI rights group, ILGA-Europe, expressed its disappointment with Tajani's new political post and his political backing from the European People's Party (EPP) and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). ILGA has stated that Tajani's concerns, expressed in 1996, with the psychological well-being of same-sex couples and his stance, expressed in 2014, against non heteronormative families are not in line with the stances of the ALDE and the EPP on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- 2 April 2014 - Aragon Empresa Award received by His Royal Highness Felipe the Prince of Asturias for his efforts in favour of industry and entrepreneurship
- 10 February 2014 - Innovadores Award received by El Mundo in recognition of his support for the industry, entrepreneurship and innovation
- 17 April 2012 – Honors for the commitment for SMEs and EU integration, Spanish Royal Institute of European Studies.
- 28 March 2012 – Prize established by the Optical Society of America for his commitment to the promotion of Key Enabling Technologies. The Prize is awarded yearly to public leaders who have distinguished themselves for their activities in the field.
- 19 March 2012 – Europe Prize 2011 by the Initiative Group of the Italians in Brussels (GII) for his strong commitment for the business community - in particular SMEs - and the promotion of the image of Italy in Europe.
- 21 November 2011 – International Journalism Prize "Argil: European man" in the category: "Communicating Europe". Award sponsored by the journalists press office (GUS), by UGEF (Unione Giornalisti Europei per il Federalismo secondo Altiero Spinelli) and by 'ANGPI (Associazione Nazionale Giornalisti Pubblicisti Italiani), as well as' the Union of Roman Chroniclers and with the support and contribution of the Regional Council of Lazio, agencies and public institutions.
In April 2015, the city of Gijón, in the Principality of Asturias (Spain) dedicated a street to Antonio Tajani, in recognition of his work done during his mandate as Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship. The naming of the street was proposed by the workers of the American company Tenneco together with the federation of Asturian businesses, and approved unanimously by all political forces in the city Council of Gijón, for the mediation carried out by Tajani in September 2013 in the negotiations with Tenneco, which by decided to close the plant in Asturias and, if followed through, would have resulted in the dismissal of 210 employees. After a long and difficult negotiation with the leaders of the company and social partners, Tajani was able to obtain the reopening of the plant in April 2014, preserving the jobs of two-thirds of the workers.
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Appointed by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius.
Order of Civil Merit (Spain)