Italy Nominates Euroskeptic Minister Head of Market Watchdog

(Bloomberg) -- The Italian government nominated euroskeptic Paolo Savona, currently European Affairs minister, as the new chairman of financial market regulator Consob, ending an almost five-month void in the watchdog’s leadership.

Ministers meeting in Rome picked the 82-year-old Savona, who will leave his current job, the office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a text message. Conte himself will take Savona’s ministerial post on an interim basis.

The nomination now needs to be examined by President Sergio Mattarella, who appoints Consob’s chairman.

The top job at the regulator has been vacant since September, when the previous head, Mario Nava, was ousted by the coalition government. Nava said at the time he was resigning after the heads of Italy’s upper and lower houses of parliament withdrew their support from him and said he was “incompatible with the presidency of an independent Italian authority” due to his links with “supranational institutions.”

Nava, a director at the European Commission, had been seconded from the EU’s Brussels-based executive arm to Consob.

’Separation of Powers’

Savona is known for his views questioning the current structure of the euro zone, saying it needs reforms. He had been in line to become finance minister in the government that took office on June 1, but his appointment was blocked by Mattarella because of his criticism of the euro region’s framework.

The choice of Savona defies the principle of the separation of powers, said Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffe, a professor of business strategy at Milan’s Bocconi University. “This is revolving doors, Savona going straight from the executive to the organ of control, which has to be independent of the executive,” he said. “And what’s more Savona is the only minister with a plan to reform Europe, now heading for a technical position where politics is banned.”

Member of Parliament Filippo Sensi has said there is a legal bar to Savona taking over the Consob chairmanship now. The law provides that a former government official would need to wait at least 12 months before leading the market watchdog, the opposition Democratic Party lawmaker said in a Twitter posting.

Mattarella had reportedly previously blocked the appointment of Marcello Minenna, currently the head of quantitative analysis at Rome-based Consob, on the grounds that the head of state wanted a candidate from outside the body.

An economy professor and former head of business lobby Confindustria, Savona was industry minister in the early 1990s under then-Premier Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Savona “is a man of great experience and elevated standing that make him absolutely suitable for the chairmanship” of Consob, Deputy Finance Minister Laura Castelli said in a telephone interview.

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