Sicco Mansholt

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Sicco Mansholt
Black and white portrait seen from the side
President of the European Commission
In office
22 March 1972 – 6 January 1973
Vice President Wilhelm Haferkamp
Preceded by Franco Maria Malfatti
Succeeded by François-Xavier Ortoli
European Commissioner for Agriculture
In office
1 January 1958 – 21 March 1972
President Walter Hallstein
Jean Rey
Franco Maria Malfatti
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Carlo Scarascia-Mugnozza
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food Supply
In office
24 June 1945 – 1 January 1958
Prime Minister Wim Schermerhorn
Louis Beel
Willem Drees
Preceded by Hans Gispen (Trade, Industry, and Agriculture)
Jim de Booy (Shipping and Fishing)
Succeeded by Kees Staf
Personal details
Born Sicco Leendert Mansholt
(1908-09-13)13 September 1908
Ulrum, Netherlands
Died 29 June 1995(1995-06-29) (aged 86)
Wapserveen, Netherlands
Political party Social Democratic Workers' Party (1937–1946)
Labour Party (1946–1995)

Sicco Leendert Mansholt (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈsɪkoː ˈleːndərt ˈmɑnsɦɔlt]; 13 September 1908 – 29 June 1995) was a Dutch politician of the Social Democratic Workers' Party and Labour Party. He was the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Fishing, and Food Supply (1945–1958), European Commissioner for Agriculture (1958–1972), and fourth President of the European Commission (1972–1973). He is one of the architects of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.

Early life and studies[edit]

Sicco Leendert Mansholt was born on 13 September 1908 in Ulrum, Groningen, Netherlands.[1]

Mansholt came from a socialist farmer's family in the Dutch province of Groningen. Both his father and grandfather were supporters of early socialist leaders such as Multatuli, Domela Nieuwenhuis and Troelstra. His father, Lambertus H. Mansholt, was a delegate for the socialist SDAP party in the Groningen provincial chamber. His mother, Wabien Andreae, daughter of a judge in Heerenveen, was one of the first women to have studied Political Science. She organised political meetings for other women, usually in their own homes.

Mansholt attended the HBS-school in Groningen and after that went to Deventer, to the School of Tropical Agriculture,[1] where he studied to become a tobacco farmer.


He moved to Java in the Dutch East Indies, nowadays Indonesia, and started work on a tea plantation.

He returned to the Netherlands in 1936, unhappy with the colonial system. He wanted to become a farmer and moved to the Wieringermeer, a polder, reclaimed in 1937. There he started his own farm.

He married Henny J. Postel in 1938, and they had two sons and two daughters.[1]

In the years of the Second World War he was an active member of the Resistance. He helped people who were in acute danger to hide in the Wieringermeerpolder; he organised clandestine food distributions for the western provinces.


Local politics[edit]

Mansholt became a member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) in 1937,[1] as a secretary of the local party. He had several public functions for the SDAP in Wieringermeer, including that of acting mayor of the Wieringermeer community.

Minister of Agriculture[edit]

First Beel cabinet with Sicco Mansholt on the left in 1946
Sicco Mansholt (left) and Rad Kortenhorst in 1957

Immediately after the war, in June 1945, socialist PvdA Prime Minister Schermerhorn asked him to take a seat in his cabinet as minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Food Distribution. He was the youngest member of a cabinet, aged only 36.

He was a member of 6 cabinets in total: Schermerhorn-Drees in 1945; Beel in 1946; Drees-Van Schaik in 1948, and another three Drees administrations: 1951, 1952 and 1956. As Minister of Agriculture during this time, he was one of the key architects of the EC's Common Agricultural Policy. In 1954 the parliamentary debate about the budget for the Department of Agriculture was postponed: the Minister was ice-skating the 200 kilometer long Elfstedentocht in the Dutch province of Friesland, which he skated twice in his life.

European Commission[edit]

In 1958, he became one of the Commissioners of the new European Commission. He was Commissioner for Agriculture and vice-president of the institution. He modernized European agriculture.

He became President of the European Commission on 22 March 1972 (Mansholt Commission) and continued in that position until 5 January 1973. It was around that time he was heavily under the influence of Club of Rome.

Life after politics[edit]

Mansholt published his autobiography De Crisis (The Crisis) in 1974.[1]

He lived his last years in on an old historic farm in the quiet village of Wapserveen in the province of Drenthe (north-east Netherlands), where he died there on 29 June 1995.[1]

His daughter Lideke also died in 1995, aged 53.


  1. ^ a b c d e f (Dutch) Dr. S.L. (Sicco) Mansholt, Parlement & Politiek. Retrieved on 10 February 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Johan van Merriënboer: Mansholt: A biography, Brussels: Peter Lang, 2011, 642pp., ISBN 9052017573

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hans Gispen
as Minister of Trade, Industry, and Agriculture
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food Supply
Succeeded by
Kees Staf
Preceded by
Jim de Booy
as Minister of Shipping and Fishing
Preceded by
Gerardus Huysmans
Minister of Economic Affairs

Succeeded by
Jan van den Brink
New office Dutch European Commissioner
Served alongside: Maan Sassen
Succeeded by
Pierre Lardinois
European Commissioner for Agriculture
Succeeded by
Carlo Scarascia-Mugnozza
Preceded by
Franco Maria Malfatti
President of the European Commission
Succeeded by
François-Xavier Ortoli