Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Last updated

Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Benita Ferrero-Waldner.jpg
European Commissioner for the
European Neighbourhood Policy
In office
22 November 2004 9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Štefan Füle
European Commissioner for Trade
In office
1 December 2009 9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Catherine Ashton
Succeeded by Karel De Gucht
European Commissioner for External Relations
In office
22 November 2004 1 December 2009
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by The Lord Patten of Barnes
Succeeded by Catherine Ashton (High Representative for FASP)
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
4 February 2000 20 October 2004
Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel
Preceded by Wolfgang Schüssel
Succeeded by Ursula Plassnik
Personal details
Born (1948-09-05) 5 September 1948 (age 70)
Salzburg, Austria
Political party People's Party
Spouse(s)Wolfgang Sterr (1974–1983)
Francisco Ferrero Campos (1993–present)
Alma mater University of Salzburg

Benita Ferrero-Waldner (born 5 September 1948) is an Austrian diplomat and politician, and a member of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). Ferrero-Waldner served as the Foreign Minister of Austria 2000–2004 and was the candidate of the Austrian People's Party in the Austrian presidential election, 2004, which she narrowly lost with 47.6% of the votes. She served as the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy from 2004 to 2009, and as the European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy from 2009 to 2010.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Austrian Peoples Party conservative political party in Austria

The Austrian People's Party is a Christian-democratic and conservative political party in Austria. A successor to the Christian Social Party of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was founded immediately following the reestablishment of the Republic of Austria in 1945 and since then has been one of the two largest Austrian political parties with the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ). In federal governance, the ÖVP has spent most of the postwar era in a grand coalition with the SPÖ. Most recently, it has been junior partner in a coalition government with the SPÖ since 2007. However, the ÖVP won the 2017 election, having the greatest number of seats and formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Its chairman Sebastian Kurz is the youngest Chancellor in Austrian history.

European Commissioner for Trade

The European Commissioner for Trade is the member of the European Commission responsible for the European Union's common commercial policy. The portfolio has been held by Cecilia Malmström since November 2014.


Early life and education

Born in Salzburg, Waldner took her matura exams in 1966 and then studied law, receiving a doctorate from the University of Salzburg in 1970.

Salzburg Place in Austria

Salzburg, literally "salt castle", is the fourth-largest city in Austria and the capital of Federal State of Salzburg.

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University of Salzburg university in Austria

The University of Salzburg, also known as the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, named after its founder, Prince-Archbishop Paris Lodron, is a public university in Salzburg municipality, Salzburg state, Austria. It is divided into four faculties:


Until 1983 Waldner worked in the private sector. Only in 1984 did she enter the diplomatic service. One of her most influential positions was Chef de protocole for Secretary General Boutros-Ghali at the UN in New York City.

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Boutros Boutros-Ghali was an Egyptian politician and diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from January 1992 to December 1996. An academic and former Vice Foreign Minister of Egypt, Boutros-Ghali oversaw the UN at a time when it dealt with several world crises, including the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. He was then the first Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie from 16 November 1997 to 31 December 2002.

From 1995 until 2000 Ferrero-Waldner served as Under-Secretary of State in two governments led by Social Democrats Franz Vranitzky and Viktor Klima. When Wolfgang Schüssel became Chancellor of Austria early in 2000 he made Ferrero-Waldner his Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position she held until October 2004, when she was succeeded by Ursula Plassnik.

Franz Vranitzky austrian chancellor

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Viktor Klima Austrian Social Democrat politician and businessman

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Wolfgang Schüssel Chancellor of Austria

Wolfgang Schüssel is an Austrian People's Party politician. He was Chancellor of Austria for two consecutive terms from February 2000 to January 2007. While being recognised as a rare example of an active reformer in contemporary Austrian politics, his governments were also highly controversial from the beginning, starting with the fact that he formed a coalition government with Jörg Haider's Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) on both occasions. In 2011, he retired from being an active member of parliament due to a multitude of charges of corruption against members of his governments.

In January 2004 it was announced that Ferrero-Waldner would run for Federal President to succeed Thomas Klestil in July 2004. Her candidature was supported by the Austrian People's Party; her only opponent was Heinz Fischer. However, she lost the election on 25 April.

Thomas Klestil Austrian diplomat and politician

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Heinz Fischer eleventh President of Austria

Heinz Fischer is a former Austrian politician. He took office as President of Austria on 8 July 2004 and was re-elected for a second and last term on 25 April 2010, leaving office on 8 July 2016. Fischer previously served as minister of science from 1983 to 1987 and as president of the National Council of Austria from 1990 to 2002. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), he suspended his party membership for the duration of his presidency.

Member of the European Commission, 2004–2010

In late July 2004 Ferrero-Waldner was nominated the successor of Franz Fischler as Austria's European Commissioner. She took office on 22 November. Her portfolio was Foreign Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy.

Franz Fischler Austrian politician

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As the EU's External Affairs Commissioner, Ferrero-Waldner is credited with being the key diplomat in the 24 July 2007 release of 5 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor imprisoned by Libya. They had been held more than 8 years on charges of purposefully infecting children with HIV, and have continued to profess their innocence. The commissioner made many trips to Libya and met with the prisoners regularly. She also worked to improve conditions for children infected with HIV/Aids.

Life after politics

Ferrero-Waldner in October 2017 BenitaFerrero-Waldner2017L1110082 (3).jpg
Ferrero-Waldner in October 2017

In September 2009 Ferrero-Waldner ran for the post of UNESCO Director-General but lost to the Bulgarian candidate Irina Bokova. Since leaving politics, she has held a variety of paid and unpaid positions, including the following:

Private life

From 1974 until 1983 Waldner was married to Wolfgang Sterr, a Bavarian high school teacher. However, their marriage ended in divorce. In 1993 Waldner married Francisco Ferrero Campos, a lecturer in Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Vienna.

After her previous marriage had finally been annulled Ferrero-Waldner married her husband again in church in December 2003. Although the wedding was a private ceremony, the news was immediately leaked to the press. This, some of Ferrero-Waldner's critics claimed, was done intentionally to attract potential voters as the Austrian Federal President is directly elected and Austria is a predominantly Roman Catholic country rooted in tradition. The couple does not have any children.

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. Advisory Council European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed).
  3. Advisory Council Graduate School for Global and International Studies, University of Salamanca.
Political offices
Preceded by
Wolfgang Schüssel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ursula Plassnik
Preceded by
Franz Fischler
Austrian European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Johannes Hahn
Preceded by
Chris Patten
European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Catherine Ashton
as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Succeeded by
as European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy
Preceded by
Catherine Ashton
as European Commissioner for Trade
European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Karel De Gucht
as European Commissioner for Trade
Preceded by
as European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Štefan Füle
as European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy