by MONITOR
THE possibility that Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, might face prosecution for corruption in Italy's courts while his country is holding the Presidency of the European Union has been commented on in this space more than once in recent months. Somehow Signor Berlusconi has managed to obtain immunity from such prosecution while holding office - an arrangement that raised eyebrows around Europe but at least promised that the business of Europe would get done without interruption while the President was in court answering his accusers. However, Berlusconi is unpredictable: addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday he gratuitously insulted a German MEP by suggesting that he should take the role of commander of a German concentration camp in a film being made in Italy. At the time of writing he has not offered the apology demanded by the victim of this attack and asked for by the German government. The scope for drama during Italy's six-month occupancy of the EU presidency seems limitless. It should not be overlooked that chance has brought together Italy's opposed political leaders at the head of EU affairs: Romano Prodi, the country's left-wing leader, is President of the European Commission while Silvio Berlusconi, the right-wing prime minister, is President of the European Council of member states. They are likely to contest the next election in Italy in 2006 but it is the next six months that they, and everyone else in Europe, should be worried about.