(born Aug. 9, 1939, Scandiano, Italy) Italian prime minister (1996–98; 2006– ) and president of the European Commission (1999–2004), one of the governing bodies of the European Union (EU). Prodi graduated from Catholic University in Milan in 1961 and did postdoctoral work at the London School of Economics. After serving as a professor of economics at the University of Bologna, he entered government as minister of industry in 1978. In 1996, after two productive stints as chairman of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (1982–89 and 1993–94), he was narrowly elected prime minister as head of the centre-left Olive Tree coalition. During his 28 months in office, Prodi privatized telecommunications and reformed the government's employment and pension policies. Budget disputes with members of his own party led to his resignation in October 1998. During his five-year term as president of the European Commission, the EU expanded beyond its western European roots to include Malta, Cyprus, and eight eastern and central European members. In 2006 Prodi again became Italy's prime minister after his centre-left coalition won the general elections.
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