Because the Italian Di Pippo was excluded from the race for ESA general management

Because the Italian Di Pippo was excluded from the race for ESA general management

According to the newspaper La Verità, the ESA selection committee has already excluded Simonetta Di Pippo and Roberto Battiston as possible general managers. Facts, names and indiscretions

Is the Italian race for the management of ESA, the European Space Agency, interrupted?
As reported today by the newspaper La Verità, the “excluded Italian candidates for the general direction of ESA, the European Space Agency. Apparently the committee that had to select the names that will then be chosen by the Council has set aside both Simonetta Di Pippo, supported by the government and Massimo D'Alema, and Roberto Battiston, married to a niece of Romano Prodi and self-nominated ".
The appointment of the new general manager is scheduled for December 2020. But it seems that Italy will not be in charge of the job.
All the details.


Let's start from the beginning. At the beginning of October, the Conte government chose the Italian candidate to lead the ESA. This is the astrophysicist Simonetta Di Pippo, director of Unoosa (the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs). ( Here the in-depth analysis by Start on the other candidates for the ESA General Management ).

ESA is the intergovernmental organization that has 22 member states and 12 and a half billion euros allocated as a budget for the next three years, in view of crucial missions to the Moon and Mars. Without forgetting that Italy, with a higher contribution than ever to the ESA budget of the order of two billion and two hundred million, is behind only Germany and France as a contributor to the agency.

His name had entered the shortlist of candidates together with that of Roberto Battison, former president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), since last June, when the ESA had published the announcement to find the successor of the current director general, German Jan Worner, who will end his mandate at the end of June 2021.

After months of hypotheses and full names, at the beginning of October it was therefore a tweet from Manlio Di Stefano , grillino undersecretary for foreign affairs with responsibility for space, to discover the cards with which Italy intends to play the game on the European table by announcing the endorsement of the executive for Di Pippo.


But from Italy, as well as Simonetta Di Pippo, Roberto Battiston, former president of the Italian space agency (ASI), sent his candidacy. And this is where the issue gets complicated. As Repubblica wrote two weeks ago, Battiston "in spite of the indications of the government, nevertheless presented his candidacy by raising a small case of" Italy "within the European institution".

Two years ago Roberto Battiston had challenged the decree of 31 October 2018, with which the then Minister of Education of the M5s-Lega government had ordered the revocation, with immediate effect, of the office of president of the ASI. Battiston had accused the decision to revoke his presidency from the ASI by the Northern League minister Bussetti as an act of "spoil system". However, in May 2019 the Lazio TAR rejected the appeal presented by the 'dismissed' president of ASI. Let's go back to the present day.

According to Repubblica , Simonetta Di Pippo's “is an iron candidacy that risks being put in crisis precisely by the presence of a second Italian in the running for the position of general manager. Despite the prestige of Roberto Battiston himself, an expert in cosmic rays and well known in the international community, his presence in the short list could favor an alternative solution to the [official] Italian one in the choice of states ”.

To silence the rumors of a penalisation of our country within the ESA due to the two candidacies, Di Stefano himself thought of it who, again via tweet, replied that the "Italian government has only one candidacy for DG ESA, Simonetta Di Pippo, and only that will support ”.


But the reassurances of the executive representatives came the cold shower of the revelations of La Verità this morning. The ESA selection committee has already ruled out both the government-supported candidate Simonetta Di Pippo and Roberto Battiston as possible general directors. The newspaper in fact underlines that "Italy, among the countries that will invest the most, risks being left out".

According to some experts, the CV of the candidate supported by Palazzo Chigi "was indefensible". “The latest experience in Esa weighed on Di Pippo. In the aerospace sector there is already talk of bankruptcy ”. Now “diplomacies are working to extend the number of those selected.” It thus emerged that both Italian candidates (both the official and the personal one) were not up to the competition. As complained by many insiders in recent times.

“Given that such a debacle was not expected, perhaps it would be appropriate to ask ourselves some questions about the appropriateness of the choices made”, an insider who prefers anonymity explains to Start Magazine .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Thu, 29 Oct 2020 06:39:46 +0000.