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Pier Carlo Padoan at the XXII Pontignano Conference

The XXII annual Pontignano Conference will take place in the Certosa di Pontignano, near Siena, 3-5 October, and will be opened by the Italian Minister of the Economy.

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Lord Patten and Ambassador Prentice

This is the most important and prestigious Anglo-Italian bilateral event and is organised by the British Council and the British Embassy in Italy, with the collaboration of the University of Siena and St. Anthony’s College, Oxford.

The annual Pontignano Conference, which started in 1993, brings together British and Italian politicians, businessmen, academics, journalists and opinion makers who debate some of the key issues for Italy, UK, and the rest of Europe. The XXII Conference will be chaired by Lord Chris Patten and the former Italian PM, Enrico Letta, as Italian co-chairman of the conference.

The theme of this year’s conference, in the year that has seen the renewal of the European Parliament and the European Commission and even more recently the Scottish referendum, could not be more appropriate: “Better together or better apart?” Europe as seen by Italy and the United Kingdom.” The proceedings will start on Friday 3 October at 5.30pm in the Aula Magna of the University of Siena. After the welcome speech by the rector of the university, Prof. Angelo Riccaboni and the mayor of Siena, Bruno Valentini, the Italian Minister of the Economy Pier Carlo Padoan will speak on the challenges that Italy, UK, and Europe face in the competition of the global market. The two co-chairmen, Lord Patten and Enrico Letta, will then introduce the debate, an open session with questions and contributions from the floor. In this session Ngaire Woods head of the Blavatnik School of Government of the University of Oxford, David Willetts, former British Minister of Universities and Science and currently MP in Westminster, Stefania Giannini, Minister of Education, University and Research, and Deborah Bergamini, Italian MP, will take part. [The Friday session is the only one which is open to the press.]

The debates will continue on Saturday and Sunday behind closed doors in the Certosa di Pontignano following the Chatham House Rule*, with the discussion focussed on four themes that will help Italy and the UK to understand whether they are ‘better together or apart’ in the EU and how to conserve political and economic influence in either case. According to Italy or the UK, how can the EU help in facing the problems that the two countries have before them? On what issues are Italy and the UK in disagreement with respect to the present, and future, role of the EU? Are we in favour of an EU which is less compact or do we favour greater integration? How can we learn from each other?

The closing session on Sunday morning will continue in the Certosa with a debate on an issue of current relevance, chosen freely by the delegates.

Press accreditation

Opening session of the XXII Pontignano Conference Friday 3 October 17:30, University of Siena, Rectorate, via Banchi di Sotto, 55 Press Office tel. +39 0577.232168/257 Anna Gorini +39 328.7183391 Email:

Chatham House Rule

When a meeting or a part of one takes place under the Chatham House Rule the participants are free to use the information received but can not reveal the identity or affiliation of those who supplied the information nor of any other participant who supplied the same information.

Further information

Published 30 September 2014