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Louis Michel

Louis Michel
Michel at the Central African Republic Development Partner Round Table
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
In office
22 November 2004 – 17 July 2009
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Poul Nielson
Joe Borg
Succeeded by Karel De Gucht
European Commissioner for Research
In office
18 July 2004 – 21 November 2004
President Romano Prodi
Preceded by Philippe Busquin
Succeeded by Janez Potočnik (Science and Research)
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
12 July 1999 – 18 July 2004
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Preceded by Erik Derycke
Succeeded by Karel De Gucht
Personal details
Born (1947-09-02) 2 September 1947
Tienen, Belgium
Political party Reformist Movement (2002–present)
Other political
Liberal Reformist Party (Before 2002)
Profession Teacher

Louis H. O. Ch. Michel (born 2 September 1947) is a Belgian politician. He served in the government of Belgium as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2004 and was European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid from 2004 to 2009. Since 2009, he has been a Member of the European Parliament. Michel is a prominent member of the French-speaking liberal party, the Mouvement Réformateur. He is the father of Charles Michel, the current Prime Minister of Belgium.


  • Early professional career 1
  • Political career 2
  • Titles 3
  • Publications 4
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo dossier 5
  • Lebanon 6
  • Belgian elections 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early professional career

From 1968 to 1978, before dedicating his life to his political career, Louis Michel taught English, Dutch and German in the Provincial School of Jodoigne, a rural town 25 miles from Brussels.

Political career

From 1967 to 1977, he was chairman of the Young Liberals in the district of Nivelles. Then he became alderman in Jodoigne from 1977 to 1983, "secretary-general" of the Parti Réformateur Libéral (PRL) political party 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 from 1978 to 2004, first as a representative (1978–1999) and then as a senator (1999–2004).

He was the Belgian foreign minister and Vice Prime Minister from 1999 to 2004, until in July 2004, the Verhofstadt government appointed Michel as its candidate for the Belgian seat on the European Commission led by José Manuel Durão Barroso, to replace former commissioner Philippe Busquin. 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. Michel completed Busquin's term as the European Commissioner for Science and Research and then served as the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development.

He is also the mayor of the municipality of Jodoigne in Walloon Brabant 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.[1]

He resigned as Commissioner in July 2009 to become a Member of the European Parliament.

Louis Michel co-presides over the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which advises on the orientations of co-operation policies between the EU and its partners in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

He is also a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee,[2] ever since the foundation was launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac to promote world peace.


In 1995, he was appointed Minister of State, 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
  • Grand Cordon de l'ordre du Mérite
  • Ordre "Stara Planina" de 1ère classe


  • Horizons : la volonté d'impliquer le citoyen dans la politique internationale, 2004, editions Luc Pire, with introduction by Kofi Annan and Guy Verhofstadt
  • 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, 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 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.

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 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, Laurent-Désiré Kabila 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.

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 by establishing a Transitional government (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, 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.


After the Israeli-Lebanese conflict in 2006 the Commissioner visited Lebanon and called for €30 million to repair the damage there. The Parliament's development committee was cautious though about the expenditure and he was also criticised for his slow response with one MEP 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 as "the hope of Congo". Michel responded by saying he would have said the same about any candidate in the democratic elections. [3]

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. Generally Commissioners are meant to remain above national politics and the European Parliament's development committee asked the Parliament's legal service to assess if his participation violates the treaties. [4] During his absence (12 May 2007 onwards), Commissioner Rehn took over his duties.

See also


  1. ^ European Union : Louis Michel is threatened of dismissal !,
  2. ^ Fondation Chirac's honour committee

External links

  • Official website
  • Les enjeux de l'ordre Michelin au Congo-Kinshasa
Political offices
Preceded by
Erik Derycke
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Karel De Gucht
Preceded by
Philippe Busquin
Belgian European Commissioner
European Commissioner for Research
Succeeded by
Janez Potočnik
as European Commissioner for Science and Research
Preceded by
Poul Nielson
Joe Borg
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
Succeeded by
Karel De Gucht
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