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Herman Van Rompuy

24 November 2009
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 06 February 2010

Profile of the first permanent President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, elected on 19 November 2009.



Born: on 31 October 1947 in Etterbeek, Brussels

Education: Philosophy and Economics at the Catholic University of Leuven

Political career:

  • 1975-1980: adviser to Prime Minister Tindemans and then to Minister for Finance Gaston Geens
  • 1988-1993: Chairman of the CVP
  • 1993-1999: Deputy Prime Minister – Minister for Budget
  • 2007-2008: President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives
  • 2008-2009: Prime Minister of Belgium
  • 2009-present: President of the European Council

First permanent President of the European Council:

Herman Van Rompuy was one of the candidate nominations of the Bilderberg group and Trilateral commission for EU President post. On 19 November 2009, he was elected the first permanent President of the European Council, after Britain dropped its backing for Tony Blair. Mr. Van Rompuy will assume his position on 1 January 2010.

The tasks of the President of the European Council include liaising with EU leaders and arranging the bloc's annual summits. Among his priorities are tackling climate change and lowering EU unemployment rates. On a meeting of the Bilderberg group on 12 November 2009, Van Rompuy expressed his view that Europe should become a federalist state with a European Union wide tax.

Even though Van Rompuy has limited reputation as an international figure, he is popular in political circles for his good negotiating skills after heading a turbulent coalition in a state of banking crisis and becoming known as a unifying force in Belgian politics. In his earlier political career, as a Budget Minister from 1993-1999, the economically trained Van Rompuy managed to bring Belgian’s public debt of 130% of GDP drastically down.

The first EU President has also become controversial for his statement against Turkey’s accession to the European Union when in 2004, he claimed that "Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe." He further explained that "The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey."

'New EU president urged to clarify views on Turkey's future'

Herman Van Rompuy is expected to give the European Union political direction and to represent Europe with a single face on the international arena.

General Secretariat of the Council of the EU: Background - President of the European Council

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