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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 20:48 GMT
Profile: Franco Frattini
Franco Frattini
Franco Frattini is unlikely to ruffle feathers at the commission

Silvio Berlusconi is offering the perfect balm to a troubled and wounded European Commission - cool, calm and non-controversial Franco Frattini.

The 47-year-old Italian foreign minister seems to be a polar opposite to the former nominee, the outspoken Rocco Buttiglione.

Mr Buttiglione's views on homosexuality, women and immigration so inflamed the European Parliament that Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was obliged to withdraw the entire 25-member team.

A close ally of Prime Minister Berlusconi and member of his Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, Franco Frattini stole onto, rather than burst upon, Italy's political scene 10 years ago.

But his quiet, determined style of politics has enabled him to rise swiftly and brilliantly up the ladder.

Ascent

He was responsible for drawing up the bill aimed at smoothing over the conflict of interest between Mr Berlusconi as head of government and powerful media magnate.

Mr Berlusconi even allowed Mr Frattini to take on the prestigious position of foreign minister, a role he had been reluctant to give away.

He really does have the stuff to work as part of a group, he won't try to stand out
Robert Leonardi
London School of Economics

Mr Frattini will no doubt see his appointment as EU commissioner-delegate for Justice, Freedom and Security as nearing the peak of his speedy ascent.

He had welcomed Mr Barroso's decision to reshuffle his team of EU policymakers, describing it as "a wise decision, aimed at avoiding a debate which risked developing into a conflict".

Low-profile

Mr Frattini does not welcome disagreement, he has spoken repeatedly of the importance of unity in Europe, and of healing divisions.

"Europe can only be viable if it is united and capable of speaking with a single voice," he wrote in a recent editorial.

Robert Leonardi of the London School of Economics says nominating Mr Frattini was a wise move on the part of Italy's prime minister.

Mr Frattini, he says, is a team player, someone who will shun the spotlight, calmly adjust his tie and simply get on with the job in hand.

FRANCO FRATTINI
47 years old
A high-flyer; magistrate at 24, minister at 38
Started on the left, swung right to become a key Berlusconi ally
Enjoys skiing, motorcycle racing, diving and ice climbing

The low-profile technocrat certainly will not ruffle feathers at the commission.

"He has never operated as a high-profile politician. He is not someone who has taken initiatives or distinguished himself," Mr Leonardi says.

"He really does have the stuff to work as part of a group, he won't try to stand out,"

"He is a high-flyer, someone who has always worked quietly, behind doors, building up his career. That is his strength."

Ski instructor

A lawyer by trade and Tuscan by origin, Franco Frattini graduated from Rome's La Sapienza university at 22.

He was a state attorney in the capital by the age of 24.

[Skiing] has taught me rigour and how to control my emotions
Franco Frattini
He then worked as a legal advisor to the treasury before joining Forza Italia in 1996 and rising swiftly to become one of the party's leading lights.

Unswayed by passions, non-argumentative, he appears just the kind of man who would go down well on the commission.

Franco Frattini, Mr Leonardi says, is "a sort of Scandinavian-Italian. He never appears in the tabloids, he never cheats on his wife."

A qualified ski instructor, Franco Frattini does have a passion for mountains and icy slopes and he believes there are definite parallels between politics and skiing.

Descending the slopes, he says, has taught him how to ascend in politics.

"[Skiing] has taught me rigour and how to control my emotions" he has said.

"If you can manage the fear at the gate before the race then you can handle any political debacle!"


SEE ALSO:
New EU Commission line-up ready
04 Nov 04 |  Europe
Barroso admits team must change
27 Oct 04 |  Europe
Profile: Rocco Buttiglione
21 Oct 04 |  Europe


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