Emilio Colombo

Emilio Colombo (11 April 1920 – 24 June 2013) was an Italian politician, member of the Christian Democracy, who served as Prime Minister of Italy from August 1970 to February 1972.[1]

Emilio Colombo
Emilio Colombo datisenato.jpg
Prime Minister of Italy
In office
6 August 1970 – 17 February 1972
PresidentGiuseppe Saragat
Giovanni Leone
Preceded byMariano Rumor
Succeeded byGiulio Andreotti
President of the European Parliament
In office
8 March 1977 – 17 July 1979
Preceded byGeorges Spénale
Succeeded bySimone Veil
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
1 August 1992 – 28 April 1993
Prime MinisterGiuliano Amato
Preceded byVincenzo Scotti
Succeeded byBeniamino Andreatta
In office
4 April 1980 – 4 August 1983
Prime MinisterArnaldo Forlani
Giovanni Spadolini
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded byAttilio Ruffini
Succeeded byGiulio Andreotti
Minister of Finance
In office
13 April 1988 – 22 July 1989
Prime MinisterCiriaco De Mita
Preceded byAntonio Gava
Succeeded byRino Formica
Minister of Budget
In office
29 July 1987 – 13 April 1988
Prime MinisterGiovanni Goria
Preceded byGiovanni Goria
Succeeded byAmintore Fanfani
In office
25 June 1968 – 13 December 1968
Prime MinisterGiovanni Leone
Preceded byGiovanni Pieraccini
Succeeded byLuigi Preti
Minister of Treasury
In office
15 March 1974 – 30 July 1976
Prime MinisterMariano Rumor
Aldo Moro
Preceded byUgo La Malfa
Succeeded byGaetano Stammati
In office
18 February 1972 – 26 June 1972
Prime MinisterGiulio Andreotti
Preceded byMario Ferrari Aggradi
Succeeded byGiovanni Malagodi
In office
22 June 1963 – 6 August 1970
Prime MinisterGiovanni Leone
Aldo Moro
Mariano Rumor
Preceded byRoberto Tremelloni
Succeeded byMario Ferrari Aggradi
Minister of Grace and Justice
In office
6 August 1970 – 17 February 1972
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byOronzo Reale
Succeeded byGuido Gonella
Minister of Foreign Trade
In office
2 July 1958 – 16 February 1959
Prime MinisterAmintore Fanfani
Preceded byGuido Carli
Succeeded byRinaldo Del Bo
Minister of Agriculture
In office
6 July 1955 – 2 July 1958
Prime MinisterAntonio Segni
Adone Zoli
Preceded byGiuseppe Medici
Succeeded byMario Ferrari Aggradi
Mayor of Potenza
In office
14 June 1952 – 14 January 1955
Preceded byPietro Scognamiglio
Succeeded byVincenzo Solimena
Member of the Parliament
Senator for life
In office
4 February 2003 – 24 June 2013
Member of the European Parliament
In office
18 June 1989 – 9 June 1994
ConstituencySouthern Italy
In office
10 June 1979 – 14 June 1984
ConstituencySouthern Italy
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
8 May 1948 – 6 April 1992
Member of the Constituent Assembly
In office
25 June 1946 – 31 January 1948
Personal details
Born(1920-04-11)11 April 1920
Potenza, Basilicata, Kingdom of Italy
Died24 June 2013(2013-06-24) (aged 93)
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Political partyChristian Democracy
Alma materSapienza University

During his long political career, Colombo held many offices in several governments. He served as Minister of Agriculture from 1955 to 1958; Minister of Foreign Trade from 1958 to 1959; Minister of Grace and Justice from 1970 to 1972; Minister of Treasury from 1963 to 1970, in 1962 and from 1974 to 1976; Minister of Budget in 1968 and from 1987 to 1988; Minister of Finance from 1988 to 1989; Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1980 to 1993 and from 1992 to 1993. Colombo, a fervent Europeanist, served also as President of the European Parliament from 1977 to 1979.[2]

In 2003, he was appointed Senator for life, a seat which he held until his death.

Early life and educationEdit

Colombo was born in Potenza, Basilicata on 11 April 1920.[3] He grew up, along with his six brothers, in a middle-class family; his father, Angelo Colombo, was a public administration's official, while her mother, Rosa Tordella, was a housewife.[4]

In 1935, he founded the first local section of Catholic Action (AC), a widespread Catholic association and one of the few non-fascist organizations, admitted by the regime of Benito Mussolini. In 1937, Colombo became the president of Potenza's Catholic Action and member of the National Council of Catholic Action's Youth. In the same year, he obtained the classical lyceum diploma at the "Quintus Horatius Flaccus" high school in Potenza.

In 1941, Colombo graduated in law at the Sapienza University of Rome, with a thesis on canon law.[5] On 1 August 1942, he was enrolled and took part in the World War II. In September 1943, after the armistice, Colombo returned to Basilicata, starting his political commitment based on anti-fascist and Christian democratic principles. From 1944 to 1947 he was appointed general secretary of Catholic Action's Youth.

Political careerEdit

Colombo entered politics as a member of the Christian Democracy (DC) in 1943.[6][7] In the 1946 election, Colombo was elected to Constituent Assembly of Italy with nearly 21,000 votes, becoming one of the youngest members of the parliament.[8] He was elected for the constituency of Potenza–Matera, which will remain his stronghold for all his political career.[9]

Colombo with Alcide De Gasperi and Antonio Segni in the early 1950s

After two years, in 1948, Colombo was re-elected in the Chamber of Deputies for his constituency, with more than 43,000 votes.[10] From May 1948 to July 1951, he was appointed undersecretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in the 5th and 6th governments of Alcide De Gasperi.[11][12] During these years, Colombo was carried on a successful mediation in Calabria, in 1949, during clashes for the occupations of the lands by peasants. He also collaborated with minister Antonio Segni in the approving of the agrarian reform. The land reform, approved by the Parliament in October 1950, was financed in part by the funds of the Marshall Plan launched by the United States in 1947 and considered by some scholars as the most important reform of the entire post-war period.[13] The reform proposed, through forced expropriation, the distribution of land to agricultural laborers, thus making them small entrepreneurs and no longer subject to the large landowner.[14] If in some ways the reform had this beneficial result, for others it significantly reduced the size of farms, effectively removing any possibility of transforming them into advanced businesses. However, this negative element was mitigated and in some cases eliminated by forms of cooperation.[15]

Prime Minister of ItalyEdit

Emilio Colombo with Ronald Reagan (1981)

A number of progressive reforms were introduced during Colombo's time as prime minister. A housing reform law of 22 October 1971 introduced new criteria for land expropriations and provisions for urban renewals. Under a law of 6 December 1971, state funds were made available for the construction of a kindergarten in every local authority. A law of 30 December 1971 introduced new regulations covering protection of female workers and maternity insurance. The duration of maternity leave was extended two months prior to, and two months after confinement for all employees, and all female workers were entitled to an earnings-related indemnity, equal to 80% of earnings (including agricultural workers and tenant farmers). Also introduced was an entitlement to voluntary extra period of leave for six months during the first year of the child's life, with job security and an indemnity equal to 30% of earnings, together with an entitlement to paid absences due to the child's sickness during the first three years if the child's life. In addition, a special natality allowance was introduced for self-employed women in the agricultural, artisan, and commercial sectors.[16]

Emilio Colombo

Later he became president of the European Parliament (occupying that office from 1977 until 1979) and foreign minister of Italy (from 1980 until 1983, and again from 1992 until 1993).[6] In February 2003 then president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi bestowed Italy's highest political honour on him, by nominating him Senator for life.[6]

In the first five years as lifetime senator, he was an independent. From 2008 until his death in June 2013, Colombo was a member of the Autonomies group, formed mainly by elects in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

After the inconclusive elections on 24–25 February 2013 and the following difficulties of the hung Senate in electing a presiding officer, Colombo became Provisional President of the Senate until the election of Pietro Grasso on 16 March 2013. The most oldest Senator, Former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, was due to inaugurate the new legislature but his unavailability benefited Colombo.

After the death of Giulio Andreotti on 6 May 2013, Colombo became the last surviving member of the Italian Constituent Assembly.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

In November 2003, he admitted to have used cocaine (for "therapeutic purposes") over a 12- to 18-month period.[17][18]

Colombo died in Rome on 24 June 2013 at the age of 93.[9][19]

Honours and awardsEdit


  1. ^ Profile of Emilio Colombo
  2. ^ Emilio Colombo – Multimedia Center, European Parliament
  3. ^ Page at Senate website (in Italian)
  4. ^ Emilio Colombo, Centenario Emilio Colombo
  5. ^ "Emilio Colombo". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "Senator-for-life, framer of Italian Constitution, dies at 94". La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno. Rome. ANSA. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Former Italian prime minister Emilio Colombo dead at 93". NewsDaily. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  8. ^ Elezioni 1946: Circoscrizione Potenza– Matera, Ministero dell'Interno
  9. ^ a b "Former Italian prime minister Emilio Colombo dead at 93". Reuters. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  10. ^ Elezioni 1948: Circoscrizione Potenza– Matera, Ministero dell'Interno
  11. ^ Governo De Gasperi V, governo.it
  12. ^ Governo De Gasperi VI, governo.it
  13. ^ Corrado Barberis, Teoria e storia della riforma agraria, Florence, Vallecchi, 1957
  14. ^ Riforma agraria e modernizzazione rurale in Italia nel ventesimo secolo
  15. ^ Alcide De Gasperi tra riforma agraria e guerra fredda (1948–1950)
  16. ^ Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II Volume 4 edited by Peter Flora
  17. ^ Scalfari, Eugenio (27 February 2007). "Casini dica Dico". L'Espresso (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2007.
  18. ^ Hooper, John (27 November 2003). "Former PM tells of regular cocaine use". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 20 July 2007.
  19. ^ "È morto Emilio Colombo: aveva 93 anni L'Italia dice addio all'ultimo padre costituente". la Repubblica (in Italian). 24 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.