Guy Verhofstadt

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Guy Verhofstadt (2014)
Signature of Guy Verhofstadt

Guy Maurice Marie Louise Verhofstadt listen ? / i (born April 11, 1953 in Dendermonde ) is a Belgian politician of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld). He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009 , where he headed the liberal ALDE group until 2019 . Before that he was Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008 . In September 2016 he was appointed Chief Negotiator of the European Parliament for the exit negotiations with the United Kingdom ( “Brexit” ). Audio file / audio sample



In 1970 he graduated from high school in Latin - Greek at the Royal Athenaeum in Ghent . The licentiate in law he reached in 1975 at the State University of Ghent . In the following years he worked as a lawyer at the Ghent Bar Association.

Political activities

He gained his first political experience as chairman of the Flemish Association of Liberal Students from Ghent, which he was from 1972 to 1974. From 1976 he was a member of the city council of Ghent and in 1977 he finally became political secretary of the PVV chairman Willy De Clercq . In the following years he held several posts, such as the first deputy of the Gent-Eeklo Chamber of Deputies (1978) and vice-president of the PVV association in the same district (1979). Also in 1979 he took over the national chairmanship of the Young PVV and became a board member of the PVV. He became chairman of the PVV in 1982. In the parliamentary elections on October 13, 1985, he succeeded in entering the Chamber of Deputies . In these elections the CVP remained the strongest party; Wilfried Martens remained Prime Minister and formed his sixth cabinet (November 28, 1985 to October 21, 1987) and his seventh cabinet (October 21, 1987 to May 9, 1987), both with a coalition of four consisting of the CVP, PRL, PVV and PSC. Verhofstadt belonged to a government faction.

From 1988 he was chairman of the shadow cabinet. In 1989 he was re-elected chairman of the PVV and in 1992 he received the same post in the VLD. After he was promoted to Minister of State in 1995, he was elected Senator in May of that year and immediately Vice President of the Senate. On June 7, 1997, he again took over the chairmanship of the VLD. At this time (or from March 7, 1992 to July 12, 1999) Jean-Luc Dehaene (CVP) was Prime Minister; Since April 1979 the CVP had consistently succeeded in appointing the Prime Minister. This changed in the Belgian parliamentary elections on June 13, 1999: Due to the "dioxin affair", the CVP lost a significant proportion of the vote (22 instead of 29 parliamentary seats), the VLD became the strongest party (23 instead of 21 seats) and Verhofstadt became prime minister.

Government functions

From 1985 to 1988 Verhofstadt was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Budget Planning and Scientific Research. From July 12, 1999 to March 20, 2008, he was Belgium's Prime Minister. During this time he formed three cabinets:

  • July 12, 1999 - July 12, 2003 Cabinet I ,
  • July 12, 2003 - December 21, 2007 Cabinet II (after the parliamentary elections on May 18, 2003),
  • December 21, 2007 - March 20, 2008 Cabinet III (after parliamentary elections on June 10, 2007).

Before Verhofstadt took office as Prime Minister, Belgium had experienced several political and judicial scandals. Verhofstadt was instrumental in radical changes to the system. Verhofstadt's ruling coalition was called the Purple-Green Coalition; it consisted of the two liberal, the two socialist and the two green parties. As Prime Minister he was confirmed for a second term in the spring of 2003, this time in a purely “purple” coalition with liberals and socialists.

In the Belgian parliamentary elections on June 10, 2007, the governing coalition lost significant seats, whereupon Verhofstadt submitted his resignation.

Yves Leterme , the top candidate of the Christian Democratic CD&V , tried unsuccessfully for six months to form a new government. Finally, on December 3, King Albert II instructed Verhofstadt to find a solution to the state crisis in talks with all parties. From December 21, 2007, Verhofstadt led a transitional government made up of Flemish and Francophone Christian Democrats and Liberals as well as the Francophone Socialists, which remained in office until March 20, 2008 until a new government under Leterme was appointed.

European Parliament

In the 2009 European elections , Verhofstadt was elected to the European Parliament . A few days after the election, he was discussed as a possible candidate for the office of Commission President . After the Social Democratic Party of Europe (PES) had not nominated an opposing candidate for the conservative incumbent José Manuel Barroso before the elections , its parliamentary group leader Martin Schulz announced after the election that he would support a possible candidacy by Verhofstadt. Support was also expressed from the European Green Party and the liberal ALDE parliamentary group . Verhofstadt himself did not initially comment. On June 30, 2009, he was elected to succeed Graham Watson as chairman of the ALDE group.

Vladimir Putin and Guy Verhofstadt at a press conference in Belgium 2001

Since 2010 Verhofstadt has been a leading member of the Spinelli group , which advocates European federalism .

From 2009 to 2012 Verhofstadt was a member of the Conference of Presidents and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

Verhofstadt was the Liberals' top candidate for the office of President of the European Commission in the 2014 European elections and was criticized for his high income. In 2013 he received 130,500 euros (allowances and attendance fees) from the Belgian investment company Sofina and 60,000 euros from the Belgian gas tanker shipping company Exmar; In 2012 he received 42,840 euros from the Dutch insurance company APG. Verhofstadt was as EU leaders in May 2015 Russia with a travel ban occupied.

In connection with the worsening of the Greek crisis, in an emotional, at times angry speech in the European Parliament on July 8, 2015, he sharply attacked the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, who was present in person, and called on him to finally tackle the overdue reforms in Greece's oversized, inflated public sector and end the clientele economy, which he - Tsipras - also uses for his own purposes. The privileges for the shipping companies, the military, the Orthodox Church, the political parties including Syriza and the Greek islands have to be ended, otherwise the Greek people - not the Greek government - will have to foot the bill. The anger tirade gained widespread public attention.

In September 2016 he was appointed Chief Negotiator of the European Parliament for the exit negotiations with the United Kingdom. In June, his former spokesman Didier Seeuws was appointed chief negotiator of the European Council , and the European Commission appointed Michel Barnier as its chief negotiator in July .

Publications (selection)

  • De weg naar politieke vernieuwing: het tweede burgermanifest . Baarn, Antwerp 1992, ISBN 90-5240-187-X .
  • Fear, fear, en het algemeen belang . Hadewijch, Antwerp 1994, ISBN 90-5240-299-X .
  • The Belgian aim: diagnose en remedies . Hadewijch, Antwerp 1997, ISBN 90-5240-428-3 .
  • De vierde golf: a liberaal project voor de nieuwe eeuw . Houtekiet, Antwerp 2002, ISBN 90-5240-692-8 .
  • with Daniel Cohn-Bendit : For Europe. A manifesto , translated by Philipp Blom . Hanser Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-446-24187-9 .
  • “The European spirit knows no reparation demands. - Europe's strength comes precisely from the fact that it has overcome resentment. If Tsipras wants Germany to pay its war debt, it is wrong and primitive. "(Guest article in: of February 13, 2015.)
  • 'Europe's Last Chance: Why the European States Must Form a More Perfect Union'. Basic Books, New York 2016, ISBN 978-0-465-09685-5 .

Web links

Commons : Guy Verhofstadt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Parliament appoints Guy Verhofstadt as representative on Brexit matters. European Parliament, September 8, 2016, accessed September 16, 2016 .
  2. see en: Belgian general election, 1985
  3. For details, see en: Belgian federal election, 1999 .
  4. PCB and dioxins were discovered in the feed of chicks, for details see en: Dioxin Affair
  5. Further details : Belgian federal election, 2003
  6. see en: Belgian federal election, 2007
  7. Premier Verhofstadt admits defeat . In: Spiegel Online , June 11, 2007.
  8. Support for Verhofstadt as Barroso's successor grows . EurActiv 10 June 2009.
  9. Parliament will postpone the Barroso vote . EurActiv 2 July 2009.
  10. ^ Website of the European Parliament
  11. Verhofstadt a "money shark" ?, ( Memento from June 6, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), May 14, 2014.
  12. Board of Directors, ( Memento of February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), accessed June 6, 2014.
  13. Andreas Borcholte: Entry bans: Russia accuses EU politicians of showing behavior. In: Spiegel Online. May 31, 2015, accessed June 1, 2015 .
  14. ^ RUS: Russian Visa Blocking List. (PDF 23 KB) In: May 26, 2015, accessed June 1, 2015 .
  15. ^ 'End privilege of ship owners, military and church' - Guy Verhofstadt. BBC News, July 9, 2015, accessed July 9, 2015 .
  16. 'Angry speech against Alexis Tsipras' - Guy Verhofstadt. News, July 9, 2015, accessed on July 10, 2015 .
  17. Verhofstadt is to lead Brexit negotiations for the EU Parliament. , September 8, 2016, accessed on September 16, 2016 .