Heard in Europe

The EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, has decided to install a new head of cabinet in the form of Fabrizia Panzetti. According to the Brussels grapevine, the decision was based on her desire to enter a new, more political phase for the second part of the mandate, after benefitting from the experience of her previous number two, Stefano Manservisi, 61.

Panzetti, 47, has 20 years of European Parliament experience to bring to the table, having been an MEP with the S&D group.

She joined Mogherini’s cabinet two years ago and was charged with some crucial points of Mogherini’s portfolio, including home affairs, the rule of law and immigration. Her elevation to head of cabinet is seen as a result of Mogherini upping her political game, given that her predecessor had a more technical background.

Manservisi served as the Director General of the Commission’s DG HOME and head of former Commission president Romano Prodi’s cabinet.

Mogherini’s decision is also thought to be an attempt to strengthen ties with her national party, il Partito Democratico, as well as bringing down the average age of her inner circle. It also comes at a time when the position of Director General for Cooperation has become available and Manservisi is seen as a viable candidate.

The change in personnel comes in the midst of the refugee crisis, an issue which is at the heart of Mogherini’s portfolio, which has soured the Commission’s relationship with numerous countries. Panzetti’s arrival, it is hoped, will serve to mend ties between the executive and Rome, which has born a significant portion of the burden.

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