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Didier Reynders

Didier Reynders
Reynders in 2023
European Commissioner for Justice
Assumed office
1 December 2019
PresidentUrsula von der Leyen
Preceded byVěra Jourová
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
6 December 2011 – 30 November 2019
Prime MinisterElio Di Rupo
Charles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Preceded bySteven Vanackere
Succeeded byPhilippe Goffin
Minister of Defence
In office
9 December 2018 – 30 November 2019
Prime MinisterCharles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Preceded bySander Loones
Succeeded byPhilippe Goffin
Minister of Finance
In office
12 July 1999 – 6 December 2011
Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
Yves Leterme
Herman Van Rompuy
Yves Leterme
Preceded byJean-Jacques Viseur
Succeeded bySteven Vanackere
Personal details
Born (1958-08-06) 6 August 1958 (age 65)
Liège, Belgium
Political partyReformist Movement
Other political
affiliations
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party
EducationUniversity of Liège

Didier Reynders (French pronunciation: [didje ʁɛndɛʁs]; born 6 August 1958) is a Belgian politician and a member of the Mouvement Réformateur (MR) serving as European Commissioner for Justice since 2019. He held various positions in public institutions before becoming a member of the House in 1992. He was a minister without interruption from 1999 to 2019, until resigning to become Belgian European Commissioner.

He served as Federal Minister of Finance until December 2011 in six different governments, then Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade Foreign Affairs and European Affairs in two governments. Following the government crisis of December 2018, he was also appointed to the post of Minister of Defense until November 2019.[1][2]

Early life and education

Reynders was born in Liège as the youngest in a family of three children. He studied law at the University of Liège.

Early career

Reynders began his career as a lawyer in 1981, before serving as Chairman of the National Railway Company of Belgium from 1986 to 1991.[3]

Political career

Minister of Finance, 1999–2011

Reynders served as Minister of Finance from 1999 to 2011; in 2002, he chaired the G-10 which is the meeting of the main creditor states (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States).[4]

Reynders became Deputy Prime Minister in 2004, in the government of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. He was the chairman of the Mouvement Réformateur from 2004 to 2011.

Reynders led the MR to a victory in the 2007 general elections, with the MR becoming the largest Francophone party of Belgium. The King appointed Reynders as informateur, i.e. to start off the informal coalition talks for a new federal government.[5]

Stalemate followed the 2010 general election. The King appointed a succession of people to negotiate a coalition from June 2010 onwards, but none succeeded in the task of forming a new government during the following seven months. Reynders was appointed informateur by the King on 2 February 2011. He reported on 16 February 2011, and his brief was extended through 1 March 2011.

Reynders with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels in March 2016

Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2011–2019

Following the appointment of Elio Di Rupo as new Belgian Prime Minister in December 2011, Reynders became Minister of Foreign Affairs. During his tenure, Belgium was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (2019–2020), as well as of the United Nations Human Rights Council (2016–2018).

Minister of Defence, 2018–2019

After the ruling coalition collapsed in 2019, Reynders also held responsibility for the defense portfolio.[6] Following an inconclusive election in May 2019, King Philippe asked Reynders and Johan Vande Lanotte to look into the conditions required for forming a coalition government.[7]

Reynders meets with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a bilateral meeting at the Centro Cultural de Belem in Lisbon in June 2021.

In 2019, Reynders announced his candidacy to succeed Thorbjørn Jagland as Secretary General of the Council of Europe;[8] the position instead went to Marija Pejčinović Burić.

European Commissioner for Justice, 2019–present

In the summer of 2019, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel put Reynders forward as the Belgian nominee for the incoming European Commission. President-elect Ursula von der Leyen nominated him for the Justice portfolio. Reynders' hearing at the European Parliament was held in September 2019 and his nomination was approved by a large majority. He took office on 1 December 2019.

In 2020, Reynders announced plans to develop a legislative proposal by 2021 requiring businesses to carry out due diligence in relation to the potential human rights and environmental impacts of their operations and supply chains.[9]

A 2022 report stated that Reynders was one of at least five senior EU officials targeted by Israeli spyware in 2021.[10]

In September 2023, Reynders was temporarily assigned by von der Leyen the European Commission's competition portfolio following outgoing European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager’s announcement that she was officially a candidate for the presidency of the European Investment Bank.[11]

In January 2024, Reynders again became the Belgian government's candidate for the position as Secretary General of the Council of Europe, this time competing with Alain Berset and Indrek Saar.[12]

Other activities

International organisations

Non-profit organisations

Controversies

Political activities

In 2015, Reynders drew criticism for having his face painted black during a traditional festival in Brussels.[16]

In April 2017, Belgium voted in favour of the entry of Saudi Arabia, yet considered one of the most retrograde countries on the issue of women's rights, in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. This decision raised controversy and questions about the role of Reynders.[17]

Criminal investigation

In September 2019, Belgian police investigated allegations of corruption and money-laundering against Reynders, relating to the construction of the Belgian embassy building in Kinshasa, the lease of a federal police HQ and other matters.[18] The investigation was dropped soon after.[19]

Honours

National honours

Foreign honours

References

  1. ^ http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2008/03/21_2.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "6 questions with Didier Reynders, Belgium's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister - Affairs Today". 16 February 2015. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Curriculum vitae of Minister Didier Reynders". Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  4. ^ HEC Europe Symposium: Didier Reynders HEC Europe Institute, Paris.
  5. ^ "King picks Mr Reynders as "informateur"". VRT Nieuws. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  6. ^ Simon Van Dorpe (24 August 2019), Belgium picks Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to be EU commissioner Politico Europe.
  7. ^ Foo Yun Chee (30 May 2019), Belgian king appoints two advisers to find path toward coalition government Reuters.
  8. ^ Election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe: Candidatures received Council of Europe, press release of 11 January 2019.
  9. ^ Norton Rose Fulbright, Proposal for an EU-wide mandatory human rights due diligence law, published May 2020, accessed 7 March 2021
  10. ^ Satter, Raphael; Bing, Christopher (11 April 2022). "Exclusive: Senior EU officials were targeted with Israeli spyware". Reuters. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  11. ^ GV De Clercq and Marie Mannes (5 September 2023), EU's Reynders says will take over commission's competition portfolio Reuters.
  12. ^ Barbara Moens and Clothilde Goujard (24 January 2024), Belgium’s Didier Reynders walks fine ethics line in top job campaign Politico Europe.
  13. ^ 2005 Annual Report Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  14. ^ 2005 Annual Report European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
  15. ^ Members European Council on Foreign Relations.
  16. ^ Belgium's Reynders criticised for painting face black BBC News, 19 March 2015.
  17. ^ "Arabie saoudite et droit des femmes à l'ONU: Charles Michel regrette le "oui" belge". Le Soir.
  18. ^ Arthur Neslen (14 September 2019), Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Commission pick, under police investigation Politico Europe.
  19. ^ Simon van Dorpe (27 September 2019), Belgian prosecutors drop investigation into Didier Reynders Politico Europe.
  20. ^ arrêtés royaux du 21 mai 2014
  21. ^ "Nicolas Sarkozy a remis la Légion d'honneur à Didier Reynders". 27 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Belgieninfo – Didier Reynders mit Bundesverdienstkreuz ausgezeichnet". www.belgieninfo.net. 10 July 2014.
  23. ^ "La Chambre des représentants de Belgique". www.dekamer.be. Archived from the original on 1 December 2016.

Media related to Didier Reynders at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices Preceded byJean-Jacques Viseur Minister of Finance 1999–2011 Succeeded bySteven Vanackere Preceded bySteven Vanackere Minister of Foreign Affairs 2011–2019 Succeeded byPhilippe Goffin Preceded bySander Loones Minister of Defence 2018–2019 Succeeded byPhilippe Goffin Preceded byMarianne Thyssen Belgian European Commissioner 2019–present Incumbent
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Didier Reynders
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