Mario Monti has been appointed as the new Italian Prime Minister and has been asked to form a new government to tackle an acute debt crisis which prompted the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi.
Mario Monti, who is an ex-EU commissioner, said he was starting urgent talks on his cabinet, aiming to restore finances.
Most parties, including Silvio Berlusconi’s, approved his nomination.
Italy’s borrowing costs have spiked, threatening the eurozone. Hailing Mario Monti’s appointment, EU leaders vowed to monitor Italy’s austerity measures.
Mario Monti’s candidature was announced after President Giorgio Napolitano spent the day in 17 meetings with senior politicians.
Speaking to reporters shortly afterwards, Mario Monti said Italy should be an “element of strength and not weakness” within the EU.
“We will aim at solving the financial situation, resume the path of growth. [We want to build] a future of dignity and hope for our children.”
Mario Monti said he would respect the country’s parliament and hold urgent consultations with its political forces.
Mario Monti refused to set a timetable for the formation of a new government, and would not say who he planned to nominate as ministers.
Speaking in a recorded TV address, Silvio Berlusconi said he would support a technocrat government and redouble his own efforts in parliament to modernize Italy.
Most centrists and centre-left parties in the opposition have already pledged their support.
However, Silvio Berlusconi’s main coalition ally, the Northern League, has withheld its support until Mario Monti’s policies have become clear.
Silvio Berlusconi, who had lost his parliamentary majority, resigned on Saturday after new austerity measures were passed by both houses of parliament.
In Brussels, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy issued a joint statement welcoming Mario Monti’s appointment.
It sent ” a further encouraging signal… of the Italian authorities’ determination to overcome the current crisis”, they said.
The Commission, they added, would continue monitoring “the implementation of measures taken by Italy with the aim of pursuing policies that foster growth and employment”.
Mario Monti’s appointment comes two days after Greece, under even greater pressure from Brussels, inaugurated a technocrat government to cope with its debt problems.
* Born in 1943 in northern Italy
* Taught economics at Turin University for 15 years
* 1994-1999: EU commissioner for internal market
* 1999-2004: EU commissioner for competition
* Rector then president of top Bocconi University in Milan
* On 11 November 2011, sworn in as a senator for life
* 13 November: Nominated PM-designate