Louis Michel

Louis Michel

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Louis H. O. Ch. Michel (born 2 September 1947) is a Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 politician. He served in the government of Belgium as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2004 and was European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

er for Development and Humanitarian Aid from 2004 to 2009. Since 2009, he has been a Member of the European Parliament
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

. Michel is a prominent member of the French-speaking
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 party, the Mouvement Réformateur
Reformist Movement
The Reformist Movement is a French-speaking liberal political party in Belgium. The party was in coalition as part of the Leterme II Government, and was also part of the governing coalition in the Walloon Region and Brussels-Capital Region until the 2004 regional elections...

.

Early professional career


From 1968 to 1978, before dedicating his life to his political career, Louis Michel taught English, Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 and German in the Provincial School of Jodoigne, a rural town 25 miles from Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

.

Political career


From 1967 to 1977, he was chairman of the Young Liberals in the district of Nivelles
Nivelles
Nivelles is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux....

. Then he became alderman
Alderman
An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council...

 in Jodoigne from 1977 to 1983, "secretary-general" of the Parti Réformateur Libéral (PRL) political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 from 1980 to 1982 and chairman of the PRL from 1982 to 1990 and from 1995 to 1999.

He was a member of the Belgian federal parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament
The Belgian Federal Parliament is a bicameral parliament. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate . It sits in the Palace of the Nation .- Chamber of Representatives :...

 from 1978 to 2004, first as a representative (1978–1999) and then as a senator
Belgian Senate
The Belgian Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Chamber of Representatives. It is considered to be the "upper house" of the Federal Parliament.-History and future:...

 (1999–2004).

He was the Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

 and Vice Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004, until in July 2004, the Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

 government appointed Michel as its candidate for the Belgian seat on the European Commission led by José Manuel Durão Barroso
José Manuel Durão Barroso
José Manuel Durão Barroso is a Portuguese politician. He is President of the European Commission, since 23 November 2004. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 6 April 2002 to 17 July 2004.-Academic career:...

, to replace former commissioner Philippe Busquin
Philippe Busquin
Philippe Busquin is a Belgian politician. He was Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009 for the French Community of Belgium with the Parti Socialiste, part of the Socialist Group and sat on the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. Busquin was the chairman...

. He was nominated on 12 August 2004 to become EU commissioner starting in November 2004.

As part of a political agreement, Busquin resigned early in September 2004 to give Louis Michel an early opportunity to serve on the European Commission. He completed Busquin's term as the European Commissioner for Science and Research and now serves as the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development.

He is also the mayor of the municipality
Municipality
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

 of Jodoigne
Jodoigne
Jodoigne is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. On January 1, 2006 Jodoigne had a total population of 12,440...

 in Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant
Walloon Brabant is a province of Wallonia in Belgium. It borders on the province of Flemish Brabant and the provinces of Liège, Namur and Hainaut . Its capital is Wavre...

 and has been since 1983.

Louis Michel has withdrawn himself from the EU between the 12 May and the 10 June 2007 to take care of his political party because of the elections of 10 June 2007.

He resigned as Commissioner in July 2009 to become an MEP.

Titles


In 1995, he was appointed Minister of State
Minister of State
Minister of State is a title borne by politicians or officials in certain countries governed under a parliamentary system. In some countries a "minister of state" is a junior minister, who is assigned to assist a specific cabinet minister...

, an honorific title given to prominent Belgian politicians.
  • Knight, Officer and Commander in the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
  • Médaille civique de la classe
  • Grand-Croix de l'ordre Royal Suédois de l'Etoile Polaire
  • Grand-Croix de l'ordre "Infante Dom Henrique"
  • Grand-Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • Grand-Cross in the Order of Isabella the Catholic
  • Grand-Cross in the Order of Dannebrog
  • Grand-Croix de l'ordre de l'Honneur
  • Grand-Croix de l'ordre de l'Etoile de la Roumanie
  • Grand officer in the Order of the Pléiade (Ordre de la Francophonie et du dialogue des cultures; that is, "Order of the Francophonie and of the dialogue of cultures")
  • Grand Officer in the Légion d'honneur
    Légion d'honneur
    The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

  • Grand Cordon de l'ordre du Mérite
  • Ordre "Stara Planina" de 1ère classe

Publications

  • Horizons : la volonté d'impliquer le citoyen dans la politique internationale, 2004, editions Luc Pire, with introduction by Kofi Annan
    Kofi Annan
    Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

     and Guy Verhofstadt
    Guy Verhofstadt
    Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

  • Les nouveaux enjeux de la politique étrangère belge, 2003, editions Larcier
  • L'Europe, je veux savoir : 110 questions simple sur le grand univers européen, 2001, 2003 et 2004, Editions Luc Pire
  • L'axe du Bien, 2003 Editions Luc Pire
  • Contre le racisme, J'agis. La conférence mondiale contre le Racisme, la discrimination raciale, la Xénophobie et l'intolérance qui y est associée, 2002
  • Lettre aux citoyens de mon pays, 1999, 2003, et 2004
  • Objectif 100, La Wallonie j'y crois!, 1988, PRL-Editions
  • Rendre confiance, 1998, Editions Luc Pire, Collection politique
  • Wallons et Optimismes, 1997, Editions Luc Pire, Collection politique
  • De Echte Walen, 1997, Editions Luc Pire, Collection politique
  • Libres et forts, projet éducatif pour réussir le futur, 1986
  • L'enfant, with collaboration of Philippe Monfils, 1984
  • Le défi vert with collaboration of Daniel Ducarme
    Daniel Ducarme
    Daniel Ducarme was a Belgian politician and former Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region.-Background and political affiliation:...

    , 1980.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo dossier



Louis Michel has been interested in the Central Africa situation and busy with the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 dossier since he became Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs (1999–2004) and European Commissioner in charge of the Development & Humanitarian Aid in the Barroso Commission
Barroso Commission
The Barroso Commission is the European Commission that has been in office since 22 November 2004 and is due to serve until 2014. Its president is José Manuel Barroso, who presides over 26 other commissioners...

.

Congo was a Belgian colony between 1908 and 1960. Since then, the relations between Brussels and Kinshasa have been tumultuous. They have included such events as the secession of Katanga
State of Katanga
Katanga was a breakaway state proclaimed on 11 July 1960 separating itself from the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. In revolt against the new government of Patrice Lumumba in July, Katanga declared independence under Moise Tshombe, leader of the local CONAKAT party...

 backed by Belgium, the murder of the Prime Minister Lumumba by the Belgian secret services, the expulsion of the Belgian ambassador in the 1960s, the banning of the Sabena company from landing in Kinshasa, and "authentic Zaïrian" policy. The father of Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

, Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001...

 had very bad relations with Brussels. Many rumours accuse Louis Michel of having used Joseph Kabila as a puppet since his father was murdered in 2001. Therefore, the media has described in a very suspicious way the good relations between Louis Michel and Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

.

Since 2001, Michel has encouraged the peace process for the Democratic Republic of the Congo that officially put an end to the Second Congo War
Second Congo War
The Second Congo War, also known as Coltan War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power; however, hostilities continue to this...

 by establishing a Transitional government
Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo was tasked with moving from the state riven by the Second Congo War to a government based upon a constitution agreed on by consensus. In 2001 President Laurent Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph Kabila was named head of state...

 (June 2003 – June 2006). The two main missions of this government were to maintain the peace by integrating all the militias into the unified army and to bring the country to elections on 30 June 2006 having ratified the new constitution by referendum.

In a lecture on 17 January 2008 (entitled Africa-Europe: the indispensable partnership) at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

, Michel faced Congolese protestors who accused him of being complicit in Kabila's assassination and installing a puppet government in the Congo today. The meeting was abandoned shortly before its scheduled end as the chair found it impossible to continue with the interruptions.

"Leopold II was a true visionary for his time, a hero," Louis Michel, a Belgian who headed the EU's development commission, said in a magazine interview this week that elicited widespread disgust in DR Congo and beyond.

Lebanon


After the Israeli-Lebanese conflict in 2006 the Commissioner visited Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and called for €30 million to repair the damage there. The Parliament's
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 development committee
Committee on Development
The Committee on Development is a standing committee of the European Parliament responsible for promoting, implementing and monitoring the development and cooperation policy of the European Union, notably talks with developing countries; aid to developing countries; and promotion of democratic...

 was cautious though about the expenditure and he was also criticised for his slow response with one MEP
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 comparing him to "a fireman who arrives at the scene after the fire has gone out". In the same debate MEPs attacked the Commissioner for "appearing partial in the Congolese elections" in describing Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

 as "the hope of Congo". Michel responded by saying he would have said the same about any candidate in the democratic elections. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/028-10126-240-08-35-903-20060828IPR10123-28-08-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm

Belgian elections


Louis Michel caused some mild controversy in 2007 among MEPs when it became known that he is to take leave from his work to compete in Belgian elections
Belgian general election, 2007
The 2007 Belgian general election took place on Sunday 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.Eligible voters were Belgian citizens 18 years and older...

. Generally Commissioners are meant to remain above national politics and the European Parliament's development committee
Committee on Development
The Committee on Development is a standing committee of the European Parliament responsible for promoting, implementing and monitoring the development and cooperation policy of the European Union, notably talks with developing countries; aid to developing countries; and promotion of democratic...

 asked the Parliament's legal service to assess if his participation violates the treaties. http://www.europeanvoice.com/current/article.asp?id=27791 During his absence (12 May 2007 onwards), Commissioner Rehn
Olli Rehn
Olli Ilmari Rehn is a Finnish politician, currently serving as European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. He had previously served as Commissioner for Enlargement...

 took over his duties.

External links



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