Leo Tindemans

Last updated

Dutch: [ˈleːjoːˈtɪndəmɑns] ; 16 April 1922 – 26 December 2014) was a Belgian politician. He served as the prime minister of Belgium from 25 April 1974 until he resigned as minister on 20 October 1978. [1] He was a member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party. [1]


Early life

Tindemans was born in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, to a Catholic family.

Political career

Early career

Tindemans was affiliated with the CVP. At the time, the party was strong in the northern region of Flanders. Tindemans was elected to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 1961 and re-elected in 1965, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1978. From 1965 to 1973 Tindemans also served as the mayor of Edegem. [2]

In 1968 Tindemans became minister tasked with the relations between the communities (1968–1972) during which he prepared the first constitutional reform which saw Belgium start transforming into a federal state. In 1972 he became minister for agriculture (1972–1973). In 1973 he became deputy Prime Minister and minister for the budget (1973–1974). [2]

Prime Minister (1974–1978)

Tindemans served as Prime Minister of two Belgian governments, from 25 April 1974 to 20 October 1978. His first cabinet was a minority government formed by the Christian-democrats and liberals. When his first government fell in 1977, Tindemans won the snap general election with 983,000 votes, still a record for any election in Belgium. [3] This formed his second cabinet with the Christian-democrats, socialists and Flemish nationalists. [2] His second government (1977–1978) fell due to the controversy surrounding the Egmont pact. [1] [2]

He was awarded the Charlemagne Prize 1976.

Tindemans Report

At the conclusion of the Paris Summit in 1974, Tindemans was tasked with devising a report to define what was meant by the term 'European Union.' [4] Consulting not only reports drawn up by the European Parliament, European Commission and the European Court of Justice, Tindemans also sought advice from members of European governments and "other powerful forces in the various States". [4] Tindemans deliberately sought to avoid using the term constitution, and instead referred to his proposals as "a new phase in the history of the unification of Europe which can only be achieved by a continuous process". Four major areas were outlined in the report: European foreign policy, European economic and social policies, European citizen rights, and the strengthening of existing European institutions. [4]

In regards to a common foreign policy, Tindemans argues that Europe must present itself united outward not only in security, tariffs and trade, but also in an economic sense. He advocated for the creation of a single decision-making centre to handle these issues, and making foreign policy cooperation between member states a legal obligation – Tindemans felt that this role largely would lie within a strengthened Council. [4] He argued for placing the interest of joint action above each country's own interests, and advocated for placing a delegate responsible for representing a collective Europe's decisions. In addition, Tindemans placed particular emphasis on strengthening Europe-United States relations, proposing that a delegate be assigned to represent European Union to the United States. [4] Lastly on the foreign policy front, Tindemans advocated for the eventual creation of a common defense policy. [4]

On the economic and social policy front, Tindemans advocated for reigniting discussions about a common economic and monetary policy, which had stalled in Europe during the early 1970s recession. As part of this revival of talks, he also advocated for the consolidation and modification of the snake. [4] He proposed expanding the scope of monetary policy by establishing an internal monetary policy, budgetary policy, and plans for the control of inflation. [4] Tindemans supported abolishing the remaining obstacles to free trade of capital that existed within the European Economic Community. Finally, Tindemans hoped for a citizen's Europe; he advocated for European civil rights, consumer rights, and protection of the environment. [4] He also pushed for a European passport union, and creation of integrated educational systems. Finally, Tindemans encouraged broad institutional reform, pushing for increased powers to the European Parliament, and overall reform for the European Council, the Council of Ministers, and the European Commission. [4]

Due to economic conditions at the time, the Tindemans report failed to make an immediate impact. [5] Despite this the report generated a request from the Council of Foreign Ministers and the commission to create an annual progress report on the European Union. [5] In addition, though quite optimistic and federalist in scope, several items which Tindemans advocated for eventually found themselves in the European Union, such as a common economic and foreign policy, as well as symbols for the European Union. [5]

Transnational networks

In the 1970s he was a regular Le Cercle participant (Johannes Grossmann, Die Internationale der Konservativen, München 2014, p. 473).

He participated in at least one Bilderberg Conference in Aachen in 1980. He appears on the provisional list of participants for the 1967 Bilderberg Conference which means that he was invited and accepted the invitation. He either cancelled in the last minute or was omitted from the official list of participants.

Later career

Tindemans in 2006 Leo Tindemans (2006) cropped.jpg
Tindemans in 2006

In 1976, during the founding Congress of the European People's Party in Brussels, he was elected first President of the new party, a role which gave him the important tasks of harmonising and finding consensus between the different leaders and member parties of the EPP and of leading the party during the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. [2]

Tindemans received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1978. [6]

Tindemans was elected to the European Parliament with a record number of votes (983.000 votes, which is still a record for any election in Belgium) and was a member of that parliament from 1979 to 1981 (during which time he also was chairman of the CVP). With the general elections of 1981 Tindemans returned to the Belgian politics and became minister of foreign affairs (1981–1989). [7] With the European elections in 1989 Tindemans went back to the European Parliament where he served two terms until he retired in 1999. During 1994–1995 he was chairman of the Tindemans group. [1]


Tindemans died on 26 December 2014 in Edegem, Antwerp, Belgium, aged 92. [8] [9] [10]


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edegem</span> Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Edegem is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. The municipality only comprises the town of Edegem proper. In 2021, Edegem had a total population of 22,244. The total area is 8.65 km². The old Sint-Antoniuskerk is no longer open to the public. It is not sure when it was first built.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul van Zeeland</span> Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician and statesman

Paul Guillaume, Viscount van Zeeland was a Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician and statesman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Rey (politician)</span> Belgian politician (1902–1983)

Jean Rey was a Belgian Liberal politician who served as the second president of the European Commission from 1967 to 1970. He served as European Commissioner for External Relations from 1958 to 1967. The 1983–1984 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siim Kallas</span> Estonian politician (born 1948)

Siim Kallas is an Estonian politician, former Prime Minister of Estonia, and former European Commissioner, as well as a former member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Flemish Alliance</span> Flemish nationalist political party in Belgium

The New Flemish Alliance is a Flemish nationalist and conservative political party in Belgium. The party was established in 2001 by the right-leaning faction of the centrist-nationalist People's Union (VU).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Eyskens</span> Belgian politician

Marc Maria Frans, Viscount Eyskens, known as Mark Eyskens, is a Belgian economist, professor and politician in the Christian People's Party, now called Christian Democratic and Flemish, and briefly served as the prime minister of Belgium in 1981.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean-Claude Juncker</span> Prime Minister of Luxembourg and President of the European Commission (born 1954)

Jean-Claude Juncker is a Luxembourgish politician who was the 23rd prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013 and 12th president of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019. He also was Finance Minister from 1989 to 2009 and President of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gaston Thorn</span> Luxembourg and international politician (1928–2007)

Gaston Egmond Thorn was a Luxembourgish politician who served in a number of high-profile positions, both domestically and internationally. Amongst the posts that he held were the 20th prime minister of Luxembourg (1974–1979), President of the United Nations General Assembly (1975), and the seventh president of the European Commission (1981–1985).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marek Belka</span> 11th Prime minister of Poland

Marek Marian Belka is a Polish professor of economics and politician who has served as Prime Minister of Poland and Finance Minister of Poland in two governments. He is a former Director of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) European Department and former Head of Narodowy Bank Polski. He has served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since July 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franz Vranitzky</span> Austrian politician; Chancellor of Austria from 1986 to 1997

Franz Vranitzky is an Austrian politician. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), he was Chancellor of Austria from 1986 to 1997.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre Moscovici</span> French politician

Pierre Moscovici is a French politician who served as the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs from 2014 to 2019. He previously served as Minister of Finance from 2012 to 2014 and as Minister for European Affairs between 1997 and 2002.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yaşar Yakış</span> Turkish politician (born 1938)

Yaşar Yakış is a Turkish politician. He is a former Foreign Minister, and a former ambassador to the UN Office in Vienna, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. From 2002 to 2011 he represented Düzce as an MP in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. He is a member of the Justice and Development Party, the leading political party in Turkey at the moment and he is the chair of the European Union Harmonization Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. He received the French Légion d'Honneur

Herman Vanderpoorten was a Belgian liberal politician. He was a son of the politician Arthur Vanderpoorten, the father of Marleen Vanderpoorten and an uncle of Patrick Dewael.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1978 Belgian general election</span>

General elections were held in Belgium on 17 December 1978. The Christian People's Party emerged as the largest party, with 57 of the 212 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 29 of the 106 seats in the Senate. Voter turnout was 94.8%. Elections were also held for the nine provincial councils and for the Council of the German Cultural Community.

European Union (EU) concepts, acronyms, and jargon are a terminology set that has developed as a form of shorthand, to quickly express a (formal) EU process, an (informal) institutional working practice, or an EU body, function or decision, and which is commonly understood among EU officials or external people who regularly deal with EU institutions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tindemans group</span> Lobby group

The Tindemans Group was an EU group of reflection in 1994-1995, set up with the aim of bringing the general public into the debate about the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference with a view to enlargement with new member states from Central and Eastern Europe. It was chaired by Leo Tindemans, former Prime Minister of Belgium; secretary of the Group was Sammy van Tuyll van Serooskerken. The Group consisted of 48 politicians, civil servants and experts from all member states and from all major political affiliations. The members of the Group had different backgrounds, different views on government and different views on Europe, such as how far it should be integrated and how decisions should be made. They shared one view in common: the decision about the future of the European Union cannot be taken without the involvement of the citizens of its member states.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bech Ministry</span>

The Bech Ministry was the government of Luxembourg that came into office in Luxembourg on 16 July 1926 after the resignation of the Prüm Ministry, and was headed by Joseph Bech. It was reshuffled on 11 April 1932 and on 27 December 1936. It stepped down after the referendum on the so-called Maulkuerfgesetz, in which the majority of voters decided against the law.

The following lists events that happened during 2014 in Belgium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roberto Gualtieri</span> Italian politician (born 1966)

Roberto Gualtieri is an Italian historian, academic and politician of the Democratic Party (PD), incumbent Mayor of Rome since 2021 and Minister of Economy and Finances in the second government of Giuseppe Conte from 2019 until 2021. He previously was a Member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2019, where he chaired the influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee within the Parliament from 2014 until 2019.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Belgium – eight months with no government". Independent.co. 13 February 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Former Belgian premier Leo Tindemans dies at 92". Reuters.com. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. "Former Belgian premier Leo Tindemans dies at 92". Reuters . 26 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Tindemans, Leo (1976). "European Union. Report by Mr. Leo Tindemans, Prime Minister of Belgium, to the European Council. Bulletin of the European Communities, Supplement 1/76. (commonly called the Tindemans Report)". Archive of European Integration. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 "The Tindemans Report". CVCE. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  6. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  7. "ATTACK ON LIBYA: CHARTING A FUTURE COURSE; Libya Requested Help on Truce, Belgian Says". The New York Times . 16 April 1986. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  8. Torfs, Michael (26 December 2014). "The "man of a million votes" Leo Tindemans has passed away". Flanders News BE. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  9. "Belgian ex-Prime Minister Leo Tindemans dies at 92". BBC News. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  10. "Leo Tindemans, 92, Dies; Belgian Prime Minister and Voice for European Unity". The New York Times . 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  11. 1 2 3 "Tindemans". www.ars-moriendi.be (in Dutch).

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Leo Tindemans at Wikimedia Commons

Leo Tindemans
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F050938-0028, Bonn, Tagung CDU-Bundesausschuss, Tindemans (cropped).jpg
Tindemans in 1977
Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
25 April 1974 20 October 1978
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by