Édith Cresson

Last updated

Édith Cresson
Edith Cresson (cropped).JPG
Prime Minister of France
In office
15 May 1991 2 April 1992
President François Mitterrand
Preceded by Michel Rocard
Succeeded by Pierre Bérégovoy
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology
In office
23 January 1995 12 September 1999
President Jacques Santer
Manuel Marín (Acting)
Preceded by Antonio Ruberti
Succeeded by Philippe Busquin
Personal details
Born (1934-01-27) 27 January 1934 (age 85)
Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s)Jacques Cresson
Alma mater HEC Paris

Édith Cresson (French pronunciation:  [edit kʁɛsɔ̃] ; born Édith Campion, 27 January 1934) is a French politician. She is the only woman to have held the office of Prime Minister of France. Her political career ended in scandal from corruption charges while she was the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology.

Politics of France Overview of Frances government and democratic system

The politics of France take place with the framework of a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the French Fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an "indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic". The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France's "attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789."

Prime Minister of France head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France

The French Prime Minister in the Fifth Republic is the head of government. During the Third and Fourth Republics, the head of government position was called President of the Council of Ministers, generally shortened to President of the Council.


French Prime Minister

Cresson was appointed to the prime ministerial post by President François Mitterrand on 15 May 1991. She soon became strongly unpopular among the electorate and had to leave office after less than one year, following the Socialists' poor showing in 1992's regional elections. Her premiership is one of the shortest in the history of the Fifth Republic. Her strong criticism of Japanese trade practices, going so far as to compare the Japanese to "yellow ants trying to take over the world", led some to consider her also to be a racist. [1] [2] [3] She also said, discussing the sexual activities of Anglo-Saxon males, "Homosexuality seems strange to me. It's different and marginal. It exists more in the Anglo-Saxon tradition than the Latin one." [3]

François Mitterrand 21st President of the French Republic

François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was a French statesman who served as President of France from 1981 to 1995, the longest time in office in French history. As First Secretary of the Socialist Party, he was the first left-wing politician to be elected President of France under the Fifth Republic.

Socialist Party (France) French political party (1969– )

The Socialist Party is a social-democratic political party in France and was, for decades, the largest party of the French centre-left. The PS used to be one of the two major political parties in the French Fifth Republic, along with the Republicans. The Socialist Party replaced the earlier French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) in 1969, and is currently led by First Secretary Olivier Faure. The PS is a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), the Socialist International (SI) and the Progressive Alliance.

French Fifth Republic fifth and current republican constitution of France since 1958

The Fifth Republic, France's current republican system of government, was established by Charles de Gaulle under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the Fourth Republic, replacing the former parliamentary republic with a semi-presidential, or dual-executive, system that split powers between a Prime Minister as head of government and a President as head of state. De Gaulle, who was the first French President elected under the Fifth Republic in December 1958, believed in a strong head of state, which he described as embodying l'esprit de la nation.

In social policy, Cresson's government enacted the Urban Framework Act of 1991, [4] which sought to ensure a "right to the city" for all citizens. The Act required "local bodies to provide living and dwelling conditions which will foster social cohesion and enable conditions of segregation to be avoided." [5] The Cresson Government also placed considerable emphasis during its time in office on facilitating the international competitiveness of firms with under 500 employees. [6] A law was passed in July 1991 which included several measures aimed at improving access of people with disabilities to housing, work places, and public buildings. [7] In addition an Act of July 1991 on legal aid "gave the public (above all, foreigners who are lawfully domiciled in France) wider access to the courts." [8] In January 1992, housing allowances were extended to all low-income households in cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants. [9] Under a law of 10 July 1991, access to legal information “was also included as part of the legal aid system.” [10] A water law was passed in January 1992 "to ensure the protection of water quality and quantity and aquatic ecosystems," [11] and in February 1992 a law was passed to promote citizens' consultation. [12]

Cresson is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Council of Women World Leaders

The Council of Women World Leaders, created in 1996, is a network of 75 current and former Presidents and Prime Ministers. It is the only organization in the world dedicated to women heads of state and government.

European Commissioner

While a European Commissioner, Cresson was the main target in the fraud allegations that led to the resignation of the Santer Commission in 1999. Subsequent to a fraud inquiry the European Commission said that Cresson in her capacity as the Research Commissioner "failed to act in response to known, serious and continuing irregularities over several years". Cresson was found guilty of not reporting failures in a youth training programme from which vast sums went missing. [13]

European Commissioner

A European Commissioner is a member of the 28-member European Commission. Each member within the Commission holds a specific portfolio, and the Commission is led by the President of the European Commission. In simple terms they are the equivalent of national ministers.

Appointing a friend

When Cresson took up her functions, she intended to appoint dental surgeon Philippe Berthelot, one of her close acquaintances, as a "personal advisor". Because Berthelot was 66 years old, he could not be appointed as a member of a Commissioner's Cabinet. When Cresson took up office, her Cabinet was already fully staffed with personal advisors. Berthelot was instead engaged as a "visiting scientist" in September 1995. [14]

Berthelot worked only as a personal advisor to Cresson. His contract expired on 1 March 1997, and he was offered another visiting scientist's contract for a period of one year. EU rules specify a maximum duration of 24 months for visiting scientists, but Berthelot spent two and a half years in the position. [14]

On 31 December 1997, Berthelot requested the termination of his contract on medical grounds, and his application was accepted. A complaint was made by a member of parliament, and a criminal investigation concerning Berthelot was opened in Belgium in 1999. In June 2004, the Chambre du conseil of the Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles (Court of First Instance, Brussels) decided that no further action should be taken in the case. [14]

European Commission vs. Édith Cresson

On 11 July 2006, in a judgment by the European Court of Justice on Case C-432/04 (Commission of the European Communities versus Édith Cresson), the Court declared that Édith Cresson acted in breach of her obligations as a European Commissioner. While the breach of the obligations arising from the office of Member of the Commission calls, in principle, for the imposition of a penalty, the Court held that, having regard to the circumstances of the case, the finding of breach constituted, of itself, an appropriate penalty and, accordingly, decided not to impose on Cresson a penalty in the form of a deprivation of her right to a pension or other benefits. [15] [16] [17]

Cresson claimed that where the conduct complained of in criminal and disciplinary proceedings was the same, the findings of the criminal court were binding on the disciplinary authorities. However, the Court held that it was not bound by the legal characterisation of facts made in the context of the criminal proceedings and that it was for the Court, exercising its discretion to the full, to investigate whether the conduct complained of in proceedings brought under Article 213(2) EC constituted a breach of the obligations arising from the office of Commissioner. Accordingly, the decision of the Chambre du conseil of the Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles that there was no evidence of criminal conduct on Cresson's part could not bind the Court.

Political career

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, 1995–1999.

Governmental functions

Prime minister, 1991–1992 (Resignation).

Minister of Agriculture, 1981–1983.

Minister of Foreign trade and Tourism, 1983–1984.

Minister of Industrial Redeployment and Foreign Trade, 1984–1986.

Minister of European Affairs, 1988–1990 (Resignation).

Electoral mandates

European Parliament

Member of European Parliament, 1979–1981 (Elected in parliamentary elections, and became minister in 1981). Elected in 1979.

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Vienne (4th constituency), Elected in 1981, but she became minister in June / 1986–1988. Elected in 1981, reelected in 1986, 1988.

General Council

General councillor of Vienne, 1982–1998 (Resignation). Reelected in 1988, 1994.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Châtellerault, 1983–1997 (Resignation). Reelected in 1989, 1995.

Deputy-mayor of Châtellerault, 1997–2008. Reelected in 2001.

Municipal councillor of Châtellerault, 1983–2008. Reelected in 1989, 1995, 2001.

Mayor of Thuré, 1977–1983.

Municipal councillor of Thuré, 1977–1983.

Cresson's Cabinet, 15 May 1991 – 2 April 1992

Édith Cresson – Prime Minister

Personal life

Cresson is married and has two daughters.

Selected publications

Related Research Articles

Alain Madelin French politician

Alain Madelin is a French politician.

Michel Rocard French politician

Michel Rocard was a French politician and a member of the Socialist Party (PS). He served as Prime Minister under François Mitterrand from 1988 to 1991, during which he created the Revenu minimum d'insertion (RMI), a social minimum welfare program for indigents, and achieved the Matignon Accords regarding the status of New Caledonia. He was a member of the European Parliament, and was strongly involved in European policies until 2009. In 2007, he joined a Commission under the authority of Sarkozy's Minister of Education, Xavier Darcos.

Alain Juppé French statesman

Alain Marie Juppé is a French politician, and a member of The Republicans. He was Prime Minister of France from 1995 to 1997 under President Jacques Chirac, during which period he faced major strikes that paralyzed the country, and became very unpopular. He left office after the victory of the left in the snap 1997 elections. He had previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1995, and as Minister of the Budget and Spokesman for the Government from 1986 to 1988. He was President of the political party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) from 2002 to 2004 and mayor of Bordeaux from 1995 to 2004.

Government of India Legislative, executive and judiciary powers of India

The Government of India, often abbreviated as GoI, is the union government created by the constitution of India as the legislative, executive and judicial authority of the union of 29 states and seven union territories of a constitutionally democratic republic. It is located in New Delhi, the capital of India.

Pierre Bérégovoy French politician

Pierre Eugène Bérégovoy was a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under President François Mitterrand from 2 April 1992 to 29 March 1993. He was a member of the Socialist Party.

Pierre Mauroy French politician

Pierre Mauroy was a French Socialist politician who was Prime Minister of France from 1981 to 1984 under President François Mitterrand. Mauroy also served as Mayor of Lille from 1973 to 2001. At the time of his death Mauroy was the emeritus mayor of the city of Lille. He died from complications of lung cancer on 7 June 2013 at the age of 84. He is the namesake of Lille's new stadium, Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Michel Barnier French politician

Michel Bernard Barnier is a French politician and EU official serving as European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union since December 2016.

John Dalli Maltese politician

John Dalli is a former Maltese politician who served as Cabinet Minister in various Maltese governments between 1987 and 2010. He was European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy between 2010 and 2012.

Pierre Moscovici French politician and European Commissioner

Pierre Moscovici is a French politician currently serving as the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Previously he served as a senior French politician, as Minister of Finance from 2012 to 2014 and as Minister for European Affairs between 1997 and 2002.

Santer Commission

The Santer Commission was the European Commission in office between 23 January 1995 and 15 March 1999. The administration was led by Jacques Santer.

Jacques Barrot French politician

Jacques Barrot was a French politician, who served as European Commissioner for Justice between 2008 and 2010, after having spent four years serving as Commissioner for Transport (2004–2008) and Commissioner for Regional Policy for eight months (2004). He was also one of five vice-presidents of the 27-member Barroso Commission. He previously held various ministerial positions in France, and was a member of the right-wing political party UMP. He was officially approved in his post by the European Parliament on 18 June 2008 with a vote of 489 to 52 with 19 abstentions.

1993 French legislative election

French legislative elections took place on 21 and 28 March 1993 to elect the tenth National Assembly of the Fifth Republic.

Noëlle Lenoir French stateswoman

Noëlle Lenoir is a French politician.

History of the European Union (1993–2004)

The history of the European Union between 1993 and 2004 was the period between its creation and the 2004 enlargement. The European Union was created at the dawn of the post–Cold War era and saw a series of successive treaties laying the ground for the euro, foreign policy and future enlargement. Three new member states joined the previous twelve in this period and the European Economic Area extended the reach of the EU's markets to three more.

Vienne Department of France

Vienne is a department in the French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It takes its name from the river Vienne.

Commission v Edith Cresson (2006) C-432/04 is an EU law case, concerning the constitutional framework in the European Union.


  1. News Week Japanese Edition, 30 May 1991
  2. The Mainichi Daily News, 21 June 1991
  3. 1 2 Rone Tempest, Los Angeles Times, 23. Juli 1991: Edith Cresson's Answer to TV Spoof: Hush Puppet! France's brutally frank premier says her caricature on one of the nation's most popular shows is sexist, unfair (englisch)
  4. "Policy and Regulation:- France Mega-sites". eugris.info.
  5. "Page not found" (PDF). oecd.org.
  6. "docs.google.com/viewer". docs.google.com. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  7. "The Center for International Rehabilitation – International Disability Rights Monitor (IDRM) Publications >> Disability Rights Community >> – Compendium – France". ideanet.org.
  8. http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/legal_research/national_legal_measures/France/France_SR.pdf
  9. http://www.eea-esem.com/papers/eea-esem/2004/702/Student-2004.pdf
  10. Mittal, R.; Sreemithun, K.V.; Legal Aid Society (Delhi, India) (2012). Legal Aid: Catalyst for Social Change. Satyam Law International. p. 85. ISBN   9788192120423 . Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  11. Water and Agriculture Sustainability, Markets and Policies: Sustainability, Markets and Policies. OECD Publishing. 2006. p. 95. ISBN   9789264022577 . Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  12. Hoffmann-Martinot, V.; Wollmann, H. (2007). State and Local Government Reforms in France and Germany: Divergence and Convergence. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. p. 240. ISBN   9783531902715 . Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  13. Europe Cresson: The 'careless' commissioner, BBC News , 16 March 1999
  14. 1 2 3 The Court declares that Mrs Edith Cresson acted in breach of her obligations as a European commissioner, 11 July 2006
  15. See European Commission, Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-432/04 11 July 2006
  16. "Edith Cresson charged with fraud" The Guardian 25 March 2003
  17. "Court rules against ex-French PM Edith Cresson: Willing to extend benefits to personal friends The EU's top court has ruled that Edith Cresson, the former European commissioner and French prime minister, violated her official duties" BBC News 11 July 2006,

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Méhaignerie
Minister of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Michel Rocard
Preceded by
Michel Jobert
Minister of External Commerce
Succeeded by
Roger Fauroux
Preceded by
Olivier Guichard
Minister of Tourism
Succeeded by
Michel Crépeau
Preceded by
Laurent Fabius
Minister of Industrial Redeployment
Succeeded by
Alain Madelin
Preceded by
Michel Rocard
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Pierre Bérégovoy
Preceded by
Jacques Delors
French European Commissioner
Served alongside: Yves-Thibault de Silguy
Succeeded by
Pascal Lamy
Preceded by
Christiane Scrivener
Succeeded by
Michel Barnier
Preceded by
Antonio Ruberti
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Technology
Succeeded by
Philippe Busquin