Malfatti, Franco Maria

   A Rome-born journalist whose early political activity was in the faction of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC) headed by Giuseppe Dossetti, Malfatti was an important figure in Italian political life in the 1970s and 1980s. He became a parliamentary deputy in 1963 and served as a junior minister between 1963 and 1969 under both Aldo Moro and Giovanni Leone. In 1969 he became minister for the state industries and then minister for the postal service and telecommunications.
   For a man still only in his early forties, his career was progressing well, but in July 1970 he was overpromoted when he became the third president of the European Commission, following in the footsteps of Walter Hallstein of Germany and Jean Rey of Belgium. Malfatti lasted less than two years, during which time the European Community (EC) made a number of important policy innovations, including the decision to admit Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway and to take a more assertive common approach in foreign affairs. In March 1972, however, Malfatti resigned to be a candidate in Italian parliamentary elections. He was widely perceived to have placed his personal political ambitions before the European cause, and his behavior created a definite prejudice against future Italian candidates for top European jobs.
   Malfatti served as minister for educationbetween July 1973 and March 1978, an unenviable task because these were years of sometimes violent upheaval in both the schools and the universities. He became finance minister subsequently and served as foreign minister in the government of Francesco Cossiga between August 1979 and January 1980, resigning for health reasons. Malfatti died in Rome in December 1991.
   See also European Integration.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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