Karel Lodewijk Georgette Emmerence De Gucht (Dutch pronunciation:
[ˈkarəl də ˈɣɵxt]; born 27 January 1954) is a Belgian politician
who was the
European Commissioner for Trade
European Commissioner for Trade from February 2010 until
31 October 2014. Previously, he served as Belgium's Minister of
Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2009 and as the European Commissioner for
International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response from
2009 to 2010.
1 Life and career
2 European commissioner
7 External links
Life and career
De Gucht was born in Overmere, Belgium. He entered politics at a young
age, and became president of the Flemish Liberal Students while
studying at the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels. He graduated
with a master's degree in Law and practised as a lawyer, mainly in
commercial matters, at the bar of Ghent. He later taught European Law
at his university.
He became a member of the
European Parliament in 1980 and fulfilled
this mandate until 1994. In 1989 he was the rapporteur of a landmark
Parliamentary Declaration on the Fundamental Rights, leading
eventually to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
which was later integrated as an essential part of the Treaty of
He entered the
Flemish Parliament after the elections of 1994 and
moved to the
Belgian Federal Parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament in 2003, where he remained
until 2004. In 1999 he was elected party president of the Flemish
liberal party (Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten). Although he was
elected to the Federal Parliament in the general election on 18 May
2003 and to the
European Parliament in the elections of June 2004, he
occupied the first seat only very briefly and the second not at all.
He entered the Belgian government on 18 July 2004 as Belgian Minister
of Foreign Affairs. He served as deputy prime minister in 2008-2009.
He was Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 2006. He was a Member of
the Security Council of the United Nations (2007–08) and Member of
the European Council (2004–09).
In July 2009 he was appointed as the Belgian European Commissioner, in
succession of Louis Michel. Like his predecessor, he was in charge of
Development and Humanitarian Aid, but from February 2010 onwards, he
became Commissioner of Trade in the Barroso II Commission, until 31
He prepared and launched free trade negotiations with the United
States, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP). He achieved important trade agreements, among others with
Peru (2013), Central America,
Ukraine (2014). In October 2014 he
concluded CETA, the free trade agreement with
Canada and the first
ever agreement with a G7 member. He oversaw the start of trade
Japan and Vietnam, resumed talks with
began investment agreement negotiations with China. He also concluded
landmark economic partnership agreements with
West Africa (ECOWAS),
South Africa (SADC) and
Eastern Africa (EAC), covering together 75% of
De Gucht performed his ultimate duty as a commissioner by signing in
Nairobi on 31 October 2014 the agreement with the Eastern African
Community (EAC), consisting of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda,
De Gucht played a key role in the conclusion of a comprehensive trade
agreement between the
European Union and Ukraine, which was a direct
cause of the upheavals in Independence Square and the 2013–14
At the end of his mandate he enjoyed a strong reputation within the
European Commission because of the progression in the trade portfolio
during his mandate and because of his strong views on European policy
questions. At the end of this mandate he decided to leave politics,
except on the local level, where he will be the chairman of the local
Karel De Gucht
Karel De Gucht is well known for his outspoken views on different
On a trip to Africa in late 2004, De Gucht sparked a diplomatic
controversy when he said that "there is a problem with the political
class in the Congo" and questioned its ability to tackle
corruption. De Gucht received a lot of informal support in
diplomatic circles and media and refused to retract his statement.
Subsequent news stories suggested his concerns were well-founded.
In November 2008 he was accused by an anonymous person and by the
president of the extreme-right party
Vlaams Belang of insider
Ghent public prosecutor ultimately decided not to
pursue an investigation in the matter stating that "from the
investigations it appears that Mr. De Gucht has never abused his
inside knowledge of the Fortis situation, more specifically the loss
in the value of its shares", and closed the case.
Most recently De Gucht prompted the biggest controversies by his
active promotion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP), currently under negotiation between the EU and the USA. Some
critics have accused De Gucht of being over-enthusiastic about the
TTIP, playing down potential risks to European small and medium-sized
companies associated with the so-called Investor-state dispute
settlement (ISDS) mechanism, and even of ignoring public concerns
about the ISDS.
De Gucht is married to Mireille Schreurs, who is a judge. They live in
Berlare and they have two sons, Frédéric and Jean-Jacques De Gucht.
Poland: 1st class - Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the
Republic of Poland.
Ketterijen – hoe overleven we onze tijd? ["Ketterijen – how do we
survive our time?] Polis, 2017.
Pluche – Over de banalisering van extreem rechts ["Pluche - On the
banalisation of the extreme right"], Houtekiet, 2007.
De toekomst is vrij : over het liberalisme in de 21ste eeuw ["The
future is free – On liberalism in the 21st century"], Houtekiet,
Het einde der pilaren : een Toscaans gesprek ["The end of
religious and philosophical pillars in society – Tuscany
conversations"]- with MEP Johan Van Hecke, Houtekiet, 2001.
Er zijn geen eilanden meer: over de democratie, vrijheid en de
mensrechten ["No man is an island - On democracy, liberty and human
rights"], with Dirk Sterckx MEP, Houtekiet, 1999.
Time and tide wait for no man: the changing European geopolitical
landscape, Praeger Publishers, 1991.
^ "The Commissioners (2010–2014): Karel De Gucht", European
European Commissioner for Development
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
^ "OSCE's Belgian Chairmanship says helped start new chapter for
Organization". Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 5
December 2006. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
^ Exit interview De Gucht
^ De Guchts ends as European commissioner
Belgium rounds on former colony". BBC News Online. 18 October 2004.
Retrieved 6 January 2010.
^ "DR Congo slams 'Tintin' minister". BBC News Online. 22 October
^ "De Gucht: "Fortis-aandelen zijn pure privézaak"".
De Morgen (in
Dutch). 15 January 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
^ "Did you take action on ISDS? EU Trade Commissioner says you
didn't". The European Free Alliance (EFA) Group in the European
Parliament. 27 July 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Karel De Gucht.
Official website (in English) (in French) (in German) (in Dutch)
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Belgian European Commissioner
European Commissioner for
Development and Humanitarian Aid
as European Commissioner for Development
as European Commissioner
for International Cooperation,
Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
European Commissioner for Trade
Barroso Commission I (2004–09)
José Manuel Barroso1
Karel De Gucht9
Franco Frattini2, 5
Mariann Fischer Boel
Antonio Tajani2, 5
1 = President. 2 = Vice President. 3 = Served from 1 January 2007. 4 =
Vassiliou replaced Kyprianou on 3 March 2008. 5 = Tajani replaced
Frattini on 18 June 2008. 6 = Ashton replaced Mandelson on 3 October
2008. 7 = Šemeta replaced Grybauskaitė on 1 July 2009. 8 = Samecki
replaced Hübner on 4 July 2009. 9 = De Gucht replaced Michel on 17
July 2009. 10 = Šefčovič replaced Figeľ on 1 October 2009.
Barroso Commission II (2009–14)
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Catherine Ashton1 (2010–14)
Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
Viviane Reding2 (2010–2014)
Martine Reicherts (2014)
Joaquín Almunia2 (2010–14)
Siim Kallas2 (2010–14)
Neelie Kroes2 (2010–14)
Industry and Entrepreneurship
Antonio Tajani2 (2010–14)
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci (2014)
Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
Maroš Šefčovič2 (2010–14)
Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Olli Rehn2 (2010–14)
Jyrki Katainen2 (2014)
Janez Potočnik (2010–14)
Andris Piebalgs (2010–14)
Internal Market and Services
Michel Barnier2 (2010–14)
Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Androulla Vassiliou (2010–14)
Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
Algirdas Šemeta (2010–14)
Karel De Gucht
Karel De Gucht (2010–14)
John Dalli (2010-12)
Tonio Borg (2012–14)
Research, Innovation and Science
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (2010–14)
Financial Programming and the Budget
Janusz Lewandowski (2010–14)
Jacek Dominik (2014)
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Maria Damanaki (2010–14)
International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis
Kristalina Georgieva (2010–14)
Günther Oettinger2 (2010–14)
Johannes Hahn (2010–14)
Connie Hedegaard (2010–14)
Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Štefan Füle (2010–14)
Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
László Andor (2010–14)
Cecilia Malmström (2010–14)
Agriculture and Rural Development
Dacian Cioloș (2010–14)
Neven Mimica (2013–14)
1 = First Vice President. 2 = Vice President.
European Commissioners for Trade
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