Paul van Zeeland

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Paul van Zeeland
Paul van Zeeland, 1937.jpg
Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
25 March 1935 – 23 November 1937
Monarch Leopold III
Preceded by Georges Theunis
Succeeded by Paul-Emile Janson
Personal details
Born Paul Guillaume van Zeeland
(1893-11-11)11 November 1893
Soignies, Belgium
Died 22 September 1973(1973-09-22) (aged 79)
Political party Catholic Party

Paul Guillaume van Zeeland (11 November 1893 – 22 September 1973) was a Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician and statesman born in Soignies.

Van Zeeland was a professor of law and later director of the Institute of Economic Science at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Leuven), and vice-governor of the National Bank of Belgium.

In March 1935, he became the prime minister of a government of national unity (a coalition comprising the three major parties: Catholics, Liberals and Socialists). Given decree powers, he was able to abate the economic crisis the country was going through, by devaluing the currency and resorting to expansive budgetary policies.

Van Zeeland's government resigned in the spring of 1936 due to the agitation of Rexism (a Belgian fascist party), but he was able to start a new term (June 1936 – November 1937). After proclaiming martial law, the government was able to suppress the Rexists.

The second Van Zeeland government carried through a progressive social reform programme, introducing the 40 h working week and measures against unemployment, which helped to ease the political tensions. Also during his second term, Belgium gave up its military alliance with France and reverted to its traditional "neutrality" policy, now dubbed "policy of independence".

In 1939, Van Zeeland became president of the Committee on Refugees, established in London, and was made High Commissioner for the repatriation of displaced Belgians in 1944. In 1946, he was one of the founders of the European League for Economic Cooperation. After the war, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in several Catholic governments between 1949 and 1954 and as economic advisor to the Belgian government and to the council of ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. He was Honorary Secretary General of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[1]

In 2013, he was found out to have started a Panamanian offshore company to the consternation of his family.[2]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Georges Theunis
Prime Minister of Belgium
1935–1937
Succeeded by
Paul-Emile Janson
Diplomatic posts
New office President of the European League for Economic Cooperation
1946–1949
Succeeded by
Pieter Kerstens