Jean-Luc Dehaene

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Jean-Luc Dehaene
Jean-Luc Dehaene 675 (cropped).jpg
46th Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
7 March 1992 12 July 1999
Monarch Baudouin
Albert II
Preceded by Wilfried Martens
Succeeded by Guy Verhofstadt
Personal details
BornJean Luc Joseph Marie Dehaene
(1940-08-07)7 August 1940
Montpellier, France
Died 15 May 2014(2014-05-15) (aged 73)
Quimper, France
Political party Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V)
Spouse(s) Celie Verbeke
Children 4
Signature Signature of Jean-Luc Dehaene.png

Jean Luc Joseph Marie "Jean-Luc" Dehaene (Dutch:  [ʒɑ̃ːˈlyk dəˈɦaːnə]  ( Loudspeaker.svg   listen ); 7 August 1940 – 15 May 2014) was a Belgian politician who served as Prime Minister of Belgium from 1992 until 1999. During his political career, he was nicknamed "The Plumber" [1] [2] and "The Minesweeper" [3] for his ability to negotiate political deadlocks. A member of the Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) party and its antecedents, [3] Dehaene gained his first ministerial appointment in 1981. Dehaene's first government (1992–1995) included both Christian and Social Democrats and presided over the creation of a new constitution, effectively transforming Belgium into a federal state. His second government (1995–1999) coincided with a number of crises in Belgium including the Dutroux scandal. The Dioxin Affair, occurring shortly before the 1999 election, led to a swing against the major parties and Dehaene's government fell. Following his final term as Prime Minister he was active in both Belgian and European politics. He was also on UEFA's financial fair play regulatory body and managed Dexia Bank during the financial crisis. He was the last prime minister of King Baudouin's reign.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Prime Minister of Belgium head of the federal government of Belgium

The Prime Minister of Belgium or the Premier of Belgium is the head of the federal government in the Kingdom of Belgium.

<i>Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams</i> political party in Flanders/Belgium

Christian Democratic and Flemish is a Christian democratic Flemish political party in Belgium. The party has historical ties to both trade unionism (ACV) and trade associations (UNIZO) and the Farmer's League. Until 2001, the party was named the Christian People's Party.


Early life and political career

Dehaene was born on 7 August 1940 in Montpellier, France, when his parents were fleeing the advance of the German army into Belgium and France. [3] During his studies at the Université de Namur and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, he was a member of the Olivaint Conference of Belgium. [4] He got into politics through the Algemeen Christelijk Werknemersverbond  (nl ) (General Christian Workers' Union; ACW), a trade union which was closely linked to the Christelijke Volkspartij (Christian People's Party; CVP). [2]

Montpellier Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Montpellier is a city near the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the Hérault department. It is located in the Occitanie region. In 2016, 607,896 people lived in the urban area and 281,613 in the city itself. Nearly one third of the population are students from three universities and from three higher education institutions that are outside the university framework in the city.

Battle of Belgium battle

The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign, often referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days' Campaign, formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army.

Battle of France Successful German invasion of France in 1940

The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and invaded France over the Alps.

Dehaene's long-time wife Celie Verbeke is a native of Illinois in the United States but both her paternal and maternal grandparents were Belgian immigrants. Since she was raised by her parents in Dutch and speaks without a foreign accent, the Belgian public remained unaware of her American background for a long time.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Belgian Americans are Americans who can trace their ancestry to immigrants of Belgium who emigrated to the United States. While the first natives of the then-Southern Netherlands arrived in America in the 17th century, the majority of Belgian immigrants arrived during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dehaene was a keen football fan, and viewed it as an important part of Belgian national identity. [3] He was a supporter of Club Brugge K.V.. [2] In 1981, he became Minister of Social Affairs and Institutional Reform, until 1988, when he became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications and Institutional Reform. [5]

As Prime Minister

Dehaene I (1992–95)

Make-up of the Dehaene I government by party Ministerverdeling Dehaene I.png
Make-up of the Dehaene I government by party

In 1992, after both Guy Verhofstadt and Melchior Wathelet had failed, Dehaene managed to form a governing coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. This became one of Belgium's most important governments, because it successfully transformed Belgium into a federal state in 1993. [6] [7] In March 1993, Dehaene offered the King the resignation of his government, because of diverging views on how to handle the public finances. However, within a week the differences were put aside.

Guy Verhofstadt former prime minister of Belgium

Guy Maurice Marie Louise Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who has served as the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Belgium since 2009. He served as the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium from 1985 to 1992 and Minister of Budget from 1985 to 1992. He was a Member of the Chamber of Representatives from 1985 to 2009.

Melchior H. M. J. F. C. Wathelet is a Belgian politician and member of the Humanist Democratic Centre. He has degrees in law and in economics and is a Master of Laws. He is also a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and the Université de Liège. From 1995 to 2003 he was a Judge at the European Court of Justice. Since October 2012 Wathelet serves as advocate-general at the Court of Justice.

Federation A union of partially self-governing states or territories, united by a central (federal) government that exercizes directly on them its sovereign power

A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. It is often argued that federal states where the central government has the constitutional authority to suspend a constituent state's government by invoking gross mismanagement or civil unrest, or to adopt national legislation that overrides or infringe on the constituent states' powers by invoking the central government's constitutional authority to ensure "peace and good government" or to implement obligations contracted under an international treaty, are not truly federal states.

After the death of King Baudouin on 31 July 1993, Dehaene's government exercised the royal function until Prince Albert was sworn in as King Albert II nine days later. [6]

Baudouin of Belgium King of Belgians

Baudouin reigned as the King of the Belgians, following his father's abdication, from 1951 until his death in 1993. He was the last Belgian king to be sovereign of the Congo.

Albert II of Belgium Sixth king of the Belgians

Albert II reigned as the King of the Belgians from 1993 until his abdication in 2013.

In 1994, Dehaene ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Belgian troops from Rwanda following the massacre of a number of Belgian peacekeepers, thus lifting the last barrier to the genocide of Tutsis. [8] During questions from the Belgian parliamentary commission into this decision he repeatedly acknowledged no regrets about the decision. He was the leading candidate to replace Jacques Delors as President of the European Commission, but British Prime Minister John Major vetoed the appointment. [3] The Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Santer was appointed as a compromise candidate instead.

Dehaene II (1995–99)

Jean-Luc Dehaene giving a speech in 2005 Jean-Luc Dehaene (speech).jpg
Jean-Luc Dehaene giving a speech in 2005

Dehaene's second government was also composed of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. Despite the fact that the government was marked by a number of political crises and scandals, most notably the Dutroux affair, it managed to serve the entire legislature. [2] During this period, for his work toward a unified Europe, Dehaene received the Vision for Europe Award in 1996. [9] Dehaene led Belgium into the Euro, [10] and in preparation for joining the Eurozone, the Dehaene government was forced to make some sharp and unpopular economic reforms. [11] Some weeks before the 1999 elections a food scandal erupted, and both governing parties lost much of their support. He was replaced by a new government, led by Flemish liberal Guy Verhofstadt. [6]

After 1999

Later political career

Between 2000 and 2007, he sat as Burgemeester (mayor) of Vilvoorde. [11] At the request of his party, the CD&V, he was once again put up as a candidate during the 2003 elections, but this was clearly not with the intention of becoming Prime Minister as he was put as last person on the party list. In June 2004 and again in June 2009, Jean-Luc Dehaene was elected to the European Parliament for the CD&V within the center-right European People's Party (EPP) group. [11] In 2003, he was awarded the Vlerick Award. [12]

Between 2006 and 2007, Dehaene served as member of the Amato Group, a group of high-level European politicians unofficially working on rewriting the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe into what became known as the Treaty of Lisbon following its rejection by French and Dutch voters. After the Belgian elections of 2007, Dehaene was appointed as mediator in the process to form a new government. [3] [13] He was also called in to assist in the negotiations around the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde partition. [2]

UEFA Financial Fair Play

Jean-Luc Dehaene (left) with Wilfried Martens (center) at a European People's Party (EPP) meeting, 2005 Flickr - europeanpeoplesparty - EPP debates on EU Constitution - Paris 8-9 March 2005 (45).jpg
Jean-Luc Dehaene (left) with Wilfried Martens (center) at a European People's Party (EPP) meeting, 2005

Dehaene also served as the chief enforcer of the football association, UEFA's, Financial Fair Play (FFP). [14] In 2011, he was involved in an investigation of Manchester City F.C. over sponsorship irregularities. [14]


Dehaene, who had previously been director of InBev, [11] became chairman of Dexia Bank, a Belgian-French bank, in October 2008. [3] With the bank in difficulty owing to the financial crisis, he was asked to lead the company through the difficult period which he described as "mission impossible". [2] Owing to his extensive political background, it was thought that he could cope with the negative public perception Dexia had acquired through the financial crisis. His political connections helped Dexia's bad bank to secure funding guarantees of up to €90 billion, provided primarily by the Belgian government. In 2012, Dexia Belgium became Belfius.


On 15 May 2014, Dehaene died after a fall while holidaying in Quimper in France. [15] He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier the same year and was not seeking reelection as a MEP in the 2014 elections for health reasons. [11] He was 73 years old.

In the aftermath of his death, he received tributes from the incumbent Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo who described him as an "exceptional statesman". [16] Tributes were also made by Guy Verhofstadt, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. [11]

His body lay in state in Vilvoorde's town hall and the retired King Albert II and the Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters both visited Vilvoorde to pay their respects. [17]



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  1. "Obituary: Jean-Luc Dehaene". The Guardian. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 N.C. (15 May 2014). "Jean-Luc Dehaene est décédé". Le Soir. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Neuger, James G. (May 15, 2014). "Jean-Luc Dehaene, Who Led Belgium Into Euro Region, Dies at 73". Bloomburg. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  4. Jean-Luc Dehaene obituary: Politician who fought hard to keep Belgium together and went on to lead Uefa’s Financial Fair Play initiative, , The Independent. Retrieved May 27, 2014
  5. 1 2 "Jean Luc Dehaene - CVP". Official profiles. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "Belgium profile". BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  7. Belga (16 May 2014). "Bplus: "Dehaene was architect van het federale België"". De Morgen. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  8. Reuters (25 May 2007). "Belgian guilt examined at Rwanda genocide trial". One India. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  9. "Angela Merkel to receive Edmond Israel Foundation's Vision for Europe Award". Clearstream. 6 November 2006. Archived from the original on 16 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  10. Belga (15 May 2014). "Groot staatsman die België in de Eurozone leidde". De Morgen. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Kroet, Cynthia (15 May 2014). "Jean-Luc Dehaene, giant of Belgian politics, dies". European Voice. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  12. "Jean-Luc Dehaene krijgt Vlerick Award". De Tijd. 26 April 2003. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  13. "The Belgian plumber is back". 5 July 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
  14. 1 2 "Uefa boss to scrutinise Manchester City's Etihad deal". BBC News. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  15. Verschueren, Rogier (15 May 2014). "Jean-Luc Dehaene overleden". De Standaard. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  16. AP (15 May 2014). "Former Belgian Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene is dead at 73; helped set up EU constitution". Fox News. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  17. Belga (22 May 2014). "Le Roi Albert et la Reine Paola rendent hommage à Jean-Luc Dehaene". La Libre Belgique. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
Political offices
Preceded by
Wilfried Martens
Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by
Guy Verhofstadt