EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has proposed former Italian Foreign Minister and ex-leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, as European Union Special Representative for the Gulf. Borrell has written to the 27 member states saying that "following very careful deliberation, I consider that the best-suited candidate is Mr Luigi Di Maio".
"As former foreign minister of Italy, Mr Luigi Di Maio has the necessary political profile at the international level for this role," he added. Di Maio's "broad contacts" with Gulf countries "will allow him to engage with the relevant actors at the appropriate level", Borrell stated in his letter to the member states.
"We have to maintain the momentum of our enhanced engagement with the Gulf. I therefore count on your support to Mr Di Maio in implementing our strategic partnership with Gulf partners," he added, proposing the appointment of Di Maio as EU Special Representative for the Gulf "for an initial period of 21 months", starting on 1 June, 2023 until 28 February, 2025.
The nomination of Di Maio was criticised by Italian politicians close to the current centre-right Government in Rome, who questioned Di Maio’s suitability for the role.
commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment: "Di Maio’s appointment is however likely to be welcomed in the Gulf region, were personalities matter. Being a former political heavyweight and foreign minister gives Di Maio the necessary prestige to interact with the leaderships in the Gulf states. It is also unlikely that the Italian government will block Di Maio’s appointment, despite reservations from some political circles. Italian diplomacy often goes to great lengths to support the candidacy of Italians to positions in international organisations, and the Italian state will see Di Maio’s appointment as complementing its own strategy of building strong economic ties with the GCC countries."