Meet the G-8 - European Union's Romano Prodi

The European Union is a collection of member states, still fairly young, but growing. It's actually made up of 25 nations, that's just up from 15 in April. All independent, but combining forces when convenient or profitable. So there really isn't a government per se. There is a leader, actually two. One elected by the member states, the other, a position that rotates from nation to nation every six months. As far as economic comparisons, it's a lot tougher, since some members are highly industrialized and reasonably wealthy, while others are still struggling to catch up.

The man at the helm, one of those presidents, the important one, is Romano Prodi. Born in Italy right before World War II, he graduated from law school, and spent much of his professional life as a professor and politician, with emphasis on economics. As far as G-8 issues, the E-U is concerned about expanding, which it just did, relations with the United States, and assimilating the ten new nations it just accepted, most former Soviet Union states or satellites.

One final note, Prodi's a former Prime Minister of Italy, and lost to the current Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. That ought to make some interesting cross- table G-8 conversation, shouldn't it? Prodi is very different from the flashy Berlusconi. So different, his nickname in Italy is "mortadella" which is the often bland lunch meat we call "bologna."