Elmar Brok

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Elmar Brok
Elmar Brok Press conference Strasbourg European Parliament 2014-02-03 02.jpg
Elmar Brok in 2014
Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
Preceded by Gabriele Albertini
In office
July 1999 – February 2007
Preceded by Tom Spencer
Succeeded by Jacek Saryusz-Wolski
Member of the European Parliament
Assumed office
President of the Union of European Federalists
Assumed office
Preceded by Andrew Duff
Personal details
Born (1946-05-14) 14 May 1946 (age 69)
Verl, Westphalia, Germany
Political party  German:
Christian Democratic Union
European People's Party

Elmar Brok (born 14 May 1946 in Verl, Westphalia) is a German Member of the European Parliament and the current Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was elected on the CDU ticket and sits with the European People's Party group. An MEP since 1980, he has held many leadership positions in German and European politics. As a member of the Convention on the Constitution for Europe and in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Brok is widely credited with contributing crucially to the Constitution of the European Union. He is currently the President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF).

Early life and education[edit]

Brok studied law and politics in Germany and at the Centre for European Governmental Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Formerly, he worked as a radio journalist and newspaper correspondent.

Political career[edit]

Positions in the European Parliament[edit]

Brok has in the past also held several other leadership positions in the European Parliament, including Member of the European People’s Party (EPP) Political Bureau, Member of the EPP Group Bureau, Coordinator in the European Parliament committees on social affairs, drugs and German unity, and the European Parliament Representative on the Council's Reflection Group for Maastricht II. He was the Parliament's main rapporteur on enlargement and rapporteur for the EU's enlargement strategy and the European External Action Service (along with Guy Verhofstadt).[2] In 2010, he joined the Friends of the EEAS, a unofficial and independent pressure group formed because of concerns that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was not paying sufficient attention to the Parliament and was sharing too little information on the formation of the European External Action Service.[3]

Brok was the European Parliament’s negotiator at several treaty negotiations including the EU-Treaties of Amsterdam (1996/1997), Nice (2000) and Lisbon (2007), the Convention on the Future of Europe (2001-2002), the European Stability Mechanism (2011-2012) and the International Treaty on Fiscal Stability (2011-2012).[4]

Positions in his party[edit]

Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl once sarcastically summarized Brok's CV: "born, married, MEP." Brok has held numerous leadership positions for the Christian Democratic Party in Germany, including Deputy Federal Chairman of the Junge Union (CDU youth section) (1973–1981), Chairman of the CDU Federal Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (1989–1999), CDU District Chairman of Ostwestfalen-Lippe (since 1996), Secretary of the CDU Land Executive of North Rhine-Westphalia (since 1996), Chairman of the CDU Federal Committee on European policy (since 1999), Assistant Chairman of the International Democrat Union (since 1991), Deputy Chairman of the European Union of Christian Democratic Workers (since 1991), and Chairman of the European Union of Christian Democratic Workers.

On 15 September 2010, Brok supported the new initiative Spinelli Group in the European Parliament, which was founded to reinvigorate the strive for federalisation of the European Union (EU).

On 16 November 2013, he was elected president of the Union of European Federalists.

Following the 2013 German elections, Brok was part of the CDU/CSU team in the negotiations with the SPD on a coalition agreement.

Other activities (selection)[edit]

Political views[edit]

On European integration[edit]

Over the course of his political career, Brok has been an advocate of ever closer integration between Germany and the other countries of the European Union.[5] Along with Greek MEP Dimitris Tsatsos, he was one of the European Parliament's two official observers at the EU negotiations that culminated in the Treaty of Nice, a deal which he later harshly criticized.[6]

Brok has been an early proponent of having the European Union abandon its old method of leaving constitutional negotiations to national leaders.[7] In 2013, however, he opposed German plans to hold national referendums for major decisions on Europe; he argued that "[i]f this was implemented in Germany, it would be seen abroad as putting an end to further development of the EU, the EU would become ineffective."[8]

Brok is regarded a critic of an accession of Turkey to the European Union. In 2011, he expressed his skepticism of Turkey's efforts to establish itself as a regional power within the Arab world; in his view, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to transform it into a regional power similar to the status it held "earlier with the Ottoman Empire" rather than pursuing the goal of EU membership.[9]

On Russia[edit]

Brok is an advocate of pursuing a "two-track policy with Russia". In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, he said: "Europe and Germany together need a strategic partnership with Russia but in parallel to focusing on human rights, too." Following the assassination of journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, Brok demanded that German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak openly about human rights with Russian President Vladimir Putin.[10] Speaking on European investments made by the Russian sovereign wealth fund and Gazprom in 2008, he expressed uncertainty about the intentions of Russia: "The Russians are just getting going and we don't fully understand their motives [...] That is going to keep the political pressure to do something high."[11]

In 2012, Brok was among the 48 signatories of an open letter to demand that the European Union implement its own version of the U.S. Magnitsky Act.[12]

When Russian leaders, concerned about Ukraine setting course toward Europe, threatened to permanently tighten customs on Ukrainian goods should the country proceed with the agreement, Brok declared that “Russia has no right to act in the way it’s doing.”[13] In 2013, he publicly blamed Russian pressure for Ukraine's leadership not signing the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement.[14]

When the request of Lithuanian MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with Russian MPs and officials in Moscow was denied amid the Ukraine crisis in early 2015, Brok complained that the case represents “a new level of non-co-operation.”[15]

On Transatlantic relations[edit]

Amid tensions between Germany and the United States over intelligence cooperation in 2015, Brok cited the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as one project that could fail as a result of the frayed relations, calling the tensions “a further blow for all those who want closer relations with America.” Asked why Germans failed to spot American violations of a 2002 accord on sharing intelligence, he suggested that too many Germans working in the BND had “a blind loyalty” to their trans-Atlantic partners.[16]

On the United Kingdom[edit]

Following British prime minister David Cameron’s decision to wield the UK veto against European Union treaty change, Brok said it was time to “marginalize Britain, so that the country comes to feel its loss of influence”.[17]

On the Armenian genocide[edit]

Speaking during the parliamentary debate on a 2015 resolution commemorating the centennial of the Armenian genocide, Brok underlined what he called the moral obligation to recognize and commemorate such massacres: “My own people committed genocides,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire’s henchmen.”[18]


Lobbying activities[edit]

Between 2004 and May 2011, Brok was Senior Vice President for Media Development at Bertelsmann. According to information broadcast by German media his activities as lobbyist of Bertelsmann were also scrutinized by the EU Commission. According to journalist Lutz Mükke (2005) Brok used his influence to ban Hajo Friedrich, who published a critical article concerning Brok's muddy activities, from the political ressort of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In an interview with the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, Brok reflected his activities and stated that for him politics was not profession, but hobby. Accordingly, critics of Brok call him a "hobbyist".[19]

In 2011, members of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs voted unanimously against a request by German prosecutors to lift Brok’s immunity in a tax blunder. Italian MEP Francesco Speroni had been tasked to write the parliament's view on the matter.[20] Brok has recently declared that he receives between 5.001 and 10.000 EUR per month as a "consultant for a company" but, unlike several of his MEP party colleagues,[21] remains opaque about the company he works for.[22]

Femen attack in Brussels[edit]

On March 21, 2013 women's rights activist and Femen-founder Alexandra Shevchenko assaulted Elmar Brok in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, after luring him outside the building with a phony interview request.[23] Femen accused Brok of soliciting the services of Ukrainian prostitutes and insulting Ukrainian women. Although Femen never disclosed its source, instead mentioning "reliable informations"[24](sic), the Kyiv Post reported shortly after that circumstantial evidence points to First Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Renat Kuzmin being involved.[25] The European External Action Service denied all allegations against Brok, citing his intensive agenda during his visit.[26] After the assault, one Femen activist was able to flee the scene while Shevchenko was arrested by police officers. Brok did not press criminal charges against Shevchenko.



  1. ^ Board of Governors European Endowment for Democracy
  2. ^ Elmar Brok MEP Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention.
  3. ^ Toby Vogel (March 3, 2010), MEPs struggle to influence creation of diplomatic corps European Voice.
  4. ^ Hamburg Summit 2012: Speakers
  5. ^ Elmar Brok and Europe’s old integrationists The Economist, April 26, 2001.
  6. ^ Elmar Brok and Europe’s old integrationists The Economist, April 26, 2001.
  7. ^ Elmar Brok and Europe’s old integrationists The Economist, April 26, 2001.
  8. ^ Sabine Siebold and Noah Barkin (November 12, 2013), German parties urge referendums on major EU decisions Reuters.
  9. ^ Annett Meiritz (September 14, 2011), Erdogan's 'Dangerous Macho Posturing': EU Politicians Slam Turkey's Anti-Israel Course Spiegel Online.
  10. ^ Judy Dempsey (October 8, 2006), From Germany, a call to press Russia on rights International Herald Tribune.
  11. ^ Carter Dougherty (January 16, 2008), In a time of crisis, sovereign funds suddenly more welcome in Europe International Herald Tribune.
  12. ^ Charles Clover and James Fontanella-Khan (June 4, 2013), MEPs threaten to block visa-free travel for Russian officials Financial Times.
  13. ^ Naftali Bendavid (August 28, 2013), EU, Ukraine Want Trade Deal Despite Russian Threats Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Laurence Norman and Katya Gorchinskaya (November 28, 2013), Merkel: 'No Hope' Ukraine Will Sign Deal Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ Dario Sarmadi (January 23, 2015), Russia suspends official EU parliament visits EUobserver.
  16. ^ Alison Smale and Melissa Eddy (May 6, 2015), Pressure Mounts on Merkel to Explain German Role in N.S.A. Espionage New York Times.
  17. ^ Alex Barker (December 12, 2011), Backlash threatens British MEP Financial Times.
  18. ^ Ceylan Yeginsu (April 15, 2015), European Parliament Urges Turkey to Recognize Armenian Genocide New York Times.
  19. ^ "Elmar Brok (CDU): EU-Parlaments-Hobbyist bei Bertelsmann". Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  20. ^ Valentina Pop (February 28, 2011), [Veteran MEP keeps immunity in tax blunder] EUobserver.
  21. ^ "MacAllister MEP Declaration" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  22. ^ "Brok MEP Declaration" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  23. ^ "Bild "Nackt-Attacke auf Europaabgeordneten"". Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  24. ^ "Femen Homepage". Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Cartoon". Kyiv Post. Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ "EEAS Statement on Femen Attack". Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]