Maria João Rodrigues

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Maria João Rodrigues
Personal details
Born 1955 (age 59–60)
Lisbon, Portugal
Political party Socialist Party
Alma mater University of Lisbon
Pantheon-Sorbonne University

Maria João Rodrigues (born 1955) is a Portuguese academic specialised in EU affairs and a former politician. She was Minister for Qualifications and Employment of Portugal in the first government of Prime Minister António Guterres (1995–1997).

Known as the "mother of the Lisbon Strategy", she has been an expert on EU political economy and has notably served as special adviser to a number of elected representatives at both Portuguese and EU level (in particular to former Prime Minister Guterres, to several European Commissioners and to the former President of the Party of European Socialists Poul Nyrup Rasmussen).


Maria João Rodrigues holds three Masters degrees and a PhD in economics from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne as well as a Degree in Sociology from the University of Lisbon.[1]

Political career[edit]

Professor of Economics at the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCT-IUL) since 1987,[2] Maria João Rodrigues started her career in public affairs in 1993 as a consultant in the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, then headed by José Falcão e Cunha in the conservative government of Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva.[1] Following the victory of the Socialist Party in the 1995 general elections, she was appointed Minister for Qualifications and Employment by Prime Minister António Guterres on 28 October 1995.[3] She held this office until 25 November 1997, when she was dismissed. After she stepped down, the ministry was abolished and the constituent parts were reallocated to other ministries. In the current government, the responsibilities of the former Minister for Qualifications and Employment have been reallocated to the Secretary of State for Employment and Vocational Training within the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity.

Maria João Rodrigues was elected for the European parliament in the European Parliament election, 2014. In 2014-06-25 she was elected vice-president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group, along with other nine MEPs.[4]

After the 2014 European Parliament election, Maria João Rodrigues proposed herself to be appointed as an European Commissioner. In spite of Maria João Rodrigues' public push for the political appointment, Carlos Moedas was appointed instead.[5] After Maria João Rodrigues was snubbed for the position, she reacted by criticizing the commission for not choosing her and attacking the appointment of Carlos Moedas, criticizing the choice for his lack of experience. Maria João Rodrigues' reaction lead Jean-Claude Juncker to state that, contrary to what she had claimed and contrary to what she has been declaring through the press, she was never considered for the job.[6]

The Lisbon Strategy[edit]

Main article: Lisbon Strategy

Maria João Rodrigues remained close to Prime Minister Guterres, and was appointed special adviser and Head of the Prime Minister's Forward Studies Unit in 1998. In this capacity, she played a dramatic role during the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, in the first semester of 2000. The Portuguese Presidency notably succeeded in securing a compromise on the so-called Lisbon Strategy, a comprehensive plan that was aimed at boosting growth and employment level in the EU. The strategy was adopted at an extraordinary European Council meeting in Lisbon in March 2000, a meeting in which Maria João Rodrigues acted as a sherpa for the Prime Minister.[7] She notably contributed to build a compromise between the delegations of the British and French governments, by resorting to the open method of coordination. Maria João Rodrigues continued to monitor closely the developments of the Lisbon Strategy, in particular as Special Advisor to the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Union for the Mid-term Review of the Lisbon Strategy (2005) and special advisor to the European Commission on the Lisbon strategy.

Looking back on this experience in 2010, Maria João Rodrigues wrote "Even if there were clear failures, the implementation of the Lisbon strategy should not be considered a failure.".[8] The Lisbon strategy is largely considered to have failures but also some achievements.

In 2007, she was appointed by Prime Minister José Socrates as special adviser for the European Union Presidency dealing with the Lisbon Treaty, the Lisbon strategy and EU Summits with international partners. This mission came to end on 1 January 2008, when the rotating presidency of the European Union was handed over to Slovenia.

Post-Lisbon Strategy career[edit]

The Lisbon Strategy was succeeded by another EU plan for "smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth" in 2010: the Europe 2020 strategy. Although not acting in any official capacity anymore, Maria João Rodrigues previous experiences with the Lisbon strategy meant that her viewpoint on the Europe 2020 was highly valued all across the political spectrum.[9][10][11]

Currently, Maria João Rodrigues is a Professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles and the University of Lisbon. She is also active in several think tank and research institutions, notably as member of the Governing Board of the European Policy Centre and of Notre Europe. She was until 2006 the chair of the advisory Group to the European Commission for Social Sciences and Humanities.[12]

In September 2011, she was defeated in her bid to become Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD by the former Belgium Prime Minister (at the time still acting Prime Minister) Yves Leterme. Despite being supported by "two Portuguese governments", both centre-left and centre-right, Maria João Rodrigues was compelled to withdraw her candidacy when Leterme voiced his interest for the position. A Portuguese newspaper wrote that "preference was given to political experience".[13] Maria João Rodrigues remains a member of the OECD's Innovation Strategy Expert advisory group.[14]

Recent research interest[edit]

Maria João Rodrigues has also been developing a policy response to the Eurozone crisis, notably with respect to the European Financial Stability Facility and the economic governance of the European Union.

In October 2010, she published in European current affairs online newspaper EurActiv a "short theatre piece" summing up her thoughts on the issue of European Economic Governance, and several other policy papers followed.[15]

In December 2011, she has been arguing for the use of a "big bazooka" to address the eurozone crisis, in the form of a large scale government debt purchase by the European Central Bank.[16]

In 2012, she took a new role in the coordination of the Europe wide project "New Pact for Europe", sponsored by the most relevant European Foundations.


  1. ^ a b "CV of Maria João Rodrigues". Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  2. ^ Archived March 23, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Archived June 9, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Maria João Rodrigues é vice-presidente da bancada socialista no Parlamento Europeu". Público. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  5. ^ Passos indica Carlos Moedas para comissário europeu, Diário de Notícias, 2014-08-01, retrieved 2014-08-15 
  6. ^ "Bruxelas desmente Maria João Rodrigues". 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  7. ^ Magone, José María. "The developing place of Portugal in the European Union" Transaction Publishers, 2004, p.34
  8. ^ Lisbon Agenda Group. "On the EU2020 agenda: contributions after the Lisbon agenda experience" Notre Europe, 2010, p.25
  9. ^ Archived June 11, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  11. ^ "Stratégie Europe 2020 : Guy Verhofstadt, Maria João Rodrigues et Laurent Cohen-Tanugi réagissent". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  12. ^ "Home page - Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities - Research & Innovation - European Commission". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  13. ^ "Maria João Rodrigues preterida na OCDE -". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  14. ^ "Innovation Strategy - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  15. ^ "Economic governance: What today's EU summit debate might look like". EurActiv. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  16. ^ "“Cimeira decisiva” termina sem surpresas. Vem aí mais pressão dos mercados | iOnline". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 

External links[edit]