Emma Bonino

Emma Bonino
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 April 2013  22 February 2014
Prime Minister Enrico Letta
Preceded by Mario Monti (Acting)
Succeeded by Federica Mogherini
Minister of European Affairs and International Trade
In office
17 May 2006  7 May 2008
Prime Minister Romano Prodi
Preceded by Giorgio La Malfa (European Affairs)
Succeeded by Andrea Ronchi (European Affairs)
Claudio Scajola (Development)
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection
In office
25 January 1995  16 September 1999
President Jacques Santer
Manuel Marín (Acting)
Preceded by Christiane Scrivener
Succeeded by David Byrne
Personal details
Born (1948-03-09) 9 March 1948
Bra, Italy
Political party Radical Party (Before 1989)
Pannella List (1989–1996)
Bonino List (1996–2001)
Italian Radicals (2001–present)
Other political
Transnational Radical Party (1989–present)
Alma mater Bocconi University
Website Official website

Emma Bonino (born 9 March 1948 in Bra)[1] is an Italian politician, who most recently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Previously she was a member of the European Parliament and a member of the Italian Senate. She served in the government of Italy as minister of international trade from 2006 to 2008. She is a leading member of the Italian Radicals, a political party which describes itself as a "liberale, liberista e libertario" (liberista means economic liberal or, better, libertarian in the American sense; libertario, here, denotes a form of cultural liberalism concerning moral issues, with some ideological connection with historical left-libertarianism). She graduated in modern languages and literature from Bocconi University in Milan in 1972.

A veteran legislator in Italian politics and an activist for various reform policies, she was elected as one of four vice presidents of the Senate on 6 May 2008.[2]

National political career

Bonino was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976 and reelected in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 2006. In 1975, she founded the Information Centre on Sterilisation and Abortion and promoted the referendum which led to the legalisation of abortion in Italy. In 1986, she was among the promoters of a referendum against nuclear energy that led to the rejection of a civil nuclear energy programme in Italy.

On 17 May 2006, Bonino was appointed as minister for international trade in the cabinet of Romano Prodi.[3] She resigned from office on 7 May 2008 when she had been elected vice president of the Senate the previous day. In 2008, at the elections of 13 and 14 April, she was elected to a seat in the Senate, the second parliamentary chamber, on the list of the Democratic Party for the Piedmont constituency.

On 28 April 2013, she was sworn in as foreign minister in the government led by Enrico Letta.

International political career

Emma Bonino with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, before their meeting in Rome.

Bonino was elected to the European Parliament in 1979 and re-elected in 1984 and 1999. She served as the Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party in 1993–94 and the party's president in 1991–1993. In October 1994, she was appointed head of the Italian Government delegation to the UN General Assembly for the "Moratorium on death penalty" initiative. From 1994 to 1999, she was European Commissioner responsible for Consumer Policy, Fisheries and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). In 1997, her field of competence was widened to include consumer health protection and food safety.

On 15 March 1999, together with all the Santer Commission, she resigned due to the accusations of fraud and mismanagement against commissioner Édith Cresson. The final report however leveled charges against most commissioners, including Bonino herself. In November 2002, she was appointed Head of the Italian Government delegation at the Inter-governmental Conference of the Community of Democracies in Seoul.

Along with Marco Pannella, another member of the Radical Party, Bonino has fought numerous battles for civil rights and individual liberty, mainly concerned with divorce, the legalisation of abortion, the legalisation of drugs, and for sexual and religious freedoms. She has fought for an end to capital punishment, against female genital mutilation, and the eradication of world hunger.

In June 1999, she obtained a historic percentage of votes (8.5%) in the European elections (vs. the usual 2–3% that Radicals got in the previous and subsequent elections). Her list (Lista Bonino) won seven of 78 Italian seats in this election.

Еmma Bonino supported the NATO intervention in Kosovo in the Spring of 1999. From 1999 to 2004, the Lista Bonino was non-affiliated. Since 2004, it is part of the ALDE group. In December 2001, she moved to Cairo with the objective of learning the Arabic language and culture. In March 2003, she started a daily review of the Arabic press on Radical Radio. In January 2004, she organized the "Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the role of the International Penal Court, the first for an Arabic country. She is currently a board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation.

Bonino was a board member of DARA (international organization) until December 2012. In 2016, she was appointed by Erik Solheim, the Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee, to serve on the High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee under the leadership of Mary Robinson.[4]

Taking her background, one can infer she is a fervent pro-European, she reaffirmed it recently by signing the Soros letter ('As concerned Europeans') and calling for a stronger European integration.[5]

Personal life

Bonino is a godmother of Countess Luana, elder daughter of Prince Friso and Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau.


In 1999 Bonino was one of the two winners of the North-South Prize,[6] an award that honors individuals with accomplishment in the protection of human rights, pluralistic democracy, and improvement of North-South relations.

For her battles and engagements with controversial issues, her engagement in the promotion of human rights and civil rights in the world, she received the "Open Society Prize 2004" and "Prix Femmes d'Europe 2004" for Italy.

She received the America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation in 2013.


  1. Gino Moliterno, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture (PDF). London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-74849-2. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  2. Senato della Repubblica, Archivio delle notizie, 9 maggio 2008, Elezione dei Vice Presidenti, dei Questori e dei Segretari (Italian) Retrieved 10 May 2008
  3. "Governo: a Bonino ministro nuovo e con portafoglio" (in Italian). Retrieved 18 May 2006.
  4. High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee Development Assistance Committee.
  5. "As concerned Europeans we urge eurozone leaders to unite". Financial Times. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  6. "The North South Prize of Lisbon". North-South Centre. Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Raniero Vanni d'Archirafi
Antonio Ruberti
European Commissioner from Italy
Served alongside: Mario Monti
Succeeded by
Mario Monti
Romano Prodi
Preceded by
Christiane Scrivener
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection
Succeeded by
David Byrne
Preceded by
Giorgio La Malfa
as Minister of European Affairs
Minister of European Affairs and International Trade
Succeeded by
Andrea Ronchi
as Minister of European Affairs
Succeeded by
Claudio Scajola
as Minister of Economic Development
Preceded by
Mario Monti
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Federica Mogherini
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