People - 17.11.2011 - 00:00 

Congratulations to Mario Monti

The new President of the Council of Ministers, Prof. Dr. Mario Monti, is connected to the University of St.Gallen in a variety of ways. An appreciation by Prof. Dr. Carl Baudenbacher.


18 November 2011. In the mid-2000s, Mario Monti was a frequent keynote speaker at the St.Gallen International Competition Law Forum ICF. The Swiss newspaper "St.Galler Tagblatt" compared his elegant, reserved style with that of an Italian conte. Today, too, commentators from all over the world emphasise his perfect manners, his commanding appearance and his urbanity. This, however, is not merely about external matters. Italy does not only need a credible cost-cutting programme to reduce national debt and a growth initiative which requires structural reforms. The confidence of the credit markets and the respect of partners in and outside Europe will only return if everyday culture changes as well. In this context, Monti’s seriousness and urbanity are in stark contrast with the sensationalism and provinciality that have characterised Italian politics in the last few years.

Honorary HSG doctorate in 2004

When Mario Monti came to St.Gallen in 2004 in order to receive the title of a Dr. iur. HSG h.c., he was at the pinnacle of his career as an EU Commissioner. He had survived the surprising end of the Santer Commission, in which he was responsible for the single market, completely unscathed. As Competition Commissioner, he had shown the American software giant Microsoft where the borders were drawn, prohibited the purely American merger of General Electric and Honeywell, pushed through a radical reform of EU competition law including merger-control law, and, together with the American competition authorities, established the International Competition Network (ICN). The ICN is an instrument of global governance which could also be a role model for other policy areas. However, Monti’s style as Commissioner was not merely characterised by intransigence and toughness. High-ranking officials who reported to him at the time have always pointed out that he prepared his decisions with a great deal of caution and circumspection. It should not be forgotten, either, that in 2002, for instance, Monti suffered three major defeats before the EU Court, which still did not damage his reputation because he drew the consequences, primarily by reinforcing the economic expertise of the Directorate General for Competition and by improving the constitutionality of procedures.

Cooperation with the CEMS university Bocconi

After his time as EU Commissioner, Mario Monti worked as a consultant for Goldman Sachs, among others, and advocated the further completion of the single market and a federalisation of the EU. At the HSG in Winter Semester 2005/2006, he and the author of these lines gave a lecture on “Decision-Making in European Institutions”, which provided the basis for an English-language curriculum in law. In that way, Monti made it clear in a unique manner how much his home university, Luigi Bocconi, whose Rector and President he was, was interested in cooperation with the HSG. Bocconi and St.Gallen are among the driving forces in the Community of European Management Schools CEMS.

A stroke of luck for Italy
As a convinced economic liberal with a social conscience, Monti represents a stroke of luck for Italy. For the new Presidente del Consiglio to be successful, he will be dependent on goodwill, also outside his country. In the EU and its capitals he can be assured of this support owing to the excellent reputation he has created for himself as a university professor and an EU Commissioner. However, Monti also knows Switzerland very well; he has spent his summer holidays in the Engadine for many years. Switzerland should reach out to him and do its utmost to remedy its bilateral relations with Italy, which have recently become fraught. Owing to its geographic situation, its traditionally close economic ties, its Italian-speaking population in the Ticino and the Grisons, as well as the many descendants of Italian immigrants, this country has every interest in such an improvement. On behalf of the HSG community, I would like to congratulate Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. HSG Mario Monti on his appointment as President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic and wish him all the best for the accomplishment of his difficult task.

Photo: Keystone / Roma News, Photomasi

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