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The Info List - Karel De Gucht



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KAREL LODEWIJK GEORGETTE EMMERENCE DE GUCHT (Dutch pronunciation: ; born 27 January 1954) is a Belgian politician who was the 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.

CONTENTS

* 1 Life and career * 2 European commissioner * 3 Controversies * 4 Honours * 5 Publications * 6 References * 7 External links

LIFE AND CAREER

De Gucht was born in Overmere , Belgium
Belgium
. He entered politics at a young age, and became president of the Flemish Liberal Students while studying at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels
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
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 Lisbon .

He entered the Flemish Parliament
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
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
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).

EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER

In July 2009 he was appointed as the Belgian European Commissioner, in succession of Louis Michel
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 October 2014.

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 South-Korea (2011), Colombia
Colombia
and Peru
Peru
(2013), Central America
Central America
, Singapore
Singapore
, Georgia , Moldavia
Moldavia
and Ukraine
Ukraine
(2014). In October 2014 he concluded CETA, the free trade agreement with Canada
Canada
and the first ever agreement with a G7 member. He oversaw the start of trade negotiations with Japan
Japan
and Vietnam
Vietnam
, resumed talks with Mercosur
Mercosur
and began investment agreement negotiations with China
China
. He also concluded landmark economic partnership agreements with West Africa
West Africa
(ECOWAS), South Africa
South Africa
(SADC) and Eastern Africa
Eastern Africa
(EAC), covering together 75% of African economy.

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
Burundi
, Kenya
Kenya
, Rwanda
Rwanda
, Tanzania
Tanzania
and Uganda
Uganda
.

De Gucht played a key role in the conclusion of a comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union
European Union
and Ukraine
Ukraine
, which was a direct cause of the upheavals in Independence Square and the 2013–14 Ukrainian Crisis .

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 council.

CONTROVERSIES

Karel De Gucht
Karel De Gucht
is well known for his outspoken views on different political issues.

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
Vlaams Belang
of insider trading. The Ghent
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 .

HONOURS

* Poland
Poland
: 1st class - Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Poland
.

PUBLICATIONS

* Pluche – Over de banalisering van extreem rechts , Houtekiet, 2007. * De toekomst is vrij : over het liberalisme in de 21ste eeuw , Houtekiet, 2002. * Het einde der pilaren : een Toscaans gesprek - with MEP Johan Van Hecke, Houtekiet, 2001. * Er zijn geen eilanden meer: over de democratie, vrijheid en de mensrechten , with Dirk Sterckx MEP, Houtekiet, 1999. * Time and tide wait for no man: the changing European geopolitical landscape, Praeger Publishers, 1991.

REFERENCES

* ^ "The Commissioners (2010–2014): Karel De Gucht", European Commission * ^ 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
Belgium
rounds on former colony". BBC News Online
BBC News Online
. 18 October 2004. Retrieved 6 January 2010. * ^ "DR Congo slams \'Tintin\' minister". BBC News Online
BBC News Online
. 22 October 2004. * ^ "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. * ^ http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/DetailsServlet?id=WMP20050090162

EXTERNAL