The long-time European Commissioner, in whose memory Europe’s prestigious Journalism Prize is given each year, Lorenzo Natali was born in Florence on 2 October 1922.
He joined the Italian Partisan resistance forces in 1944, taking part in the war of liberation against the Nazis, where he was wounded in battle and decorated for his courage.
Natali, whose name would become synonymous with the Prize awarded to media professionals who defend the freedom of expression, democracy, human rights and development, worked as a lawyer after the war.
A member of the National Council of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party, his political career blossomed as a deputy in the Abruzzi constituency, which he represented in seven successive parliaments.
He worked in many government posts, notably as under-secretary to the Prime Minister and went on to serve as a Minister with various portfolios, including Shipping, Tourism, Culture and Public Works.
In November 1976, Italy appointed him to the European Commission. From January 1977 until January 1981, he served as vice-president with responsibilities for enlargement, the environment, nuclear safety and relations with the European Parliament.
Natali played an important role in the success of EU membership negotiations with Greece, and helped launch the accession process with Spain and Portugal. He also helped implement key measures to combat pollution and improve living conditions across Europe.
In January 1981, Natali’s appointment as vice-president was renewed and he was given responsibilities for Mediterranean policy, enlargement and information. Four years later, and until January 1989, he was again reconfirmed, this time with responsibilities for cooperation and development policy in the European Commission led by Jacques Delors.
It was within this portfolio that he established a broad network of relations with the governments and leaders of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. His ties helped him draw up the first reform of the ACP conventions.
Lorenzo Natali died in Rome on 29 August 1990. The Journalism Prize that bears his name has subsequently been an integral part of the European Commission’s development policy for almost 20 years.
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