Mario Monti’s Nordic Dream

As the EU’s top competition official a decade ago, Mario Monti was regarded as a very Anglo-Saxon regulator. Today, he is the most Nordic prime minister that Italy has ever had – in a country where politics and society remain anything but Nordic.

ROME – Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister, is a self-styled German among Italian economists. As the European Union’s top competition official a decade ago, he was regarded as a very Anglo-Saxon regulator. Today, he is the most Nordic prime minister that Italy has ever had.

At the outset of his premiership six months ago, Monti declared himself to be an admirer of all things Danish – the country’s “society, economy, and civility.” The measures that he has introduced since coming to power – from pension reform to combating tax evasion – have displayed the rigor and transparency that one associates with northern European countries.

Likewise, Monti has repeatedly said that he is inspired by Scandinavia’s labor-market and social-protection arrangements. The Swedish home-furniture giant Ikea’s recent announcement that it will open two new plants in northwest Italy suggests that Scandinavians are taking note of Monti’s Nordic tastes.

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