Jean-Luc Dehaene

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Jean-Luc Dehaene
Jean-Luc Dehaene (speech).jpg
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
Born (1940-08-07) 7 August 1940 (age 73)
Montpellier, France
Political party Christian Democratic and Flemish
Spouse(s) Celie Verbeke
Religion Roman Catholicism

Jean-Luc Dehaene (Dutch pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ːˈlyk d̪əˈɦäːn̪ə] ( ); born Jean Luc Joseph Marie Dehaene, 7 August 1940) is a Belgian politician.

Early life and political career[edit]

Jean-Luc Dehaene was born on 7 August 1940 in Montpellier, France, when his parents were fleeing German troops. During his studies, he was a member of the Olivaint Conference of Belgium. 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). 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.

Dehaene I (1992–1995)[edit]

In 1992, after both Guy Verhofstadt and Melchior Wathelet had failed, he 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 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.

After the death of King Baudouin I, his government exercised the royal function until Prince Albert was sworn in as King Albert II of the Belgians nine days later.

In 1994, he ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Belgian troops from Rwanda, thus lifting the last barrier to the genocide of Tutsis. 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 at the Summit in Corfu, John Major vetoed the appointment whereas all 11 other countries leaders supported Dehaene following much arm-twisting of other dissenters in what was widely seen as a Franco-German stitch-up. The Luxembourg PM Santer was appointed as a compromise candidate instead.

Dehaene II (1995–1999)[edit]

His second government was also composed of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. Despite the fact that the government was flooded with crises – notably the Dutroux scandal – it managed to serve the entire legislature. During this period, for his work toward a unified Europe, Dehaene received the Vision for Europe Award in 1996. Some weeks before the 1999 elections a food scandal erupted, and both governing parties lost much of their support.

After 1999[edit]

After the elections, Guy Verhofstadt formed the first Belgian government without the Christian Democrats since 1958. Dehaene remained senator until 2001, when he became mayor of Vilvoorde, a city near Brussels. He also joined the board of directors of Lernout & Hauspie where he was part of what is considered one of the largest corporate scandals in history prior to Enron. To the surprise of many, he was nominated by Verhofstadt to become Vice-Chairman of the Convention on the Future of Europe. To offer support to his party, the CD&V (Christian Democrat and Flemish), he was once again 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, Jean-Luc Dehaene was elected to the European Parliament. In 2003, he was awarded the Vlerick Award.

After the Belgian elections of 2007, Dehaene was appointed as mediator in the process to form a new government.[1]

Dehaene is currently serving as the chief enforcer of UEFA's Financial Fair Play.[2]


In October 2008 he became chairman of Dexia Bank, a Belgian-French bank. With the bank in problems due to the financial crisis, he was asked to lead the company through the difficult period. Because he has an extensive political background it was thought that he could cope with the negative perception of the financial institution Dexia due to 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.



  • Sleutels voor morgen, Esopus, Hasselt, 1995, 111 p.
  • Sporen naar 2000, Icarus, Antwerpen, 1999, 173 p.
  • Er is nog leven na de 16, Van Halewyck, Leuven, 2002, 208 p.
  • De Europese Uitdaging: van uitbreiding tot integratie, Van Halewyck, Leuven, 2004, 237 p.


  1. ^ "The Belgian plumber is back". 5 July 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  2. ^ "Uefa boss to scrutinise Manchester City's Etihad deal". BBC News. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Belgian Senate Biography (French)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Wilfried Martens
Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by
Guy Verhofstadt