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Benita Ferrero-Waldner

In office
1 December 2009 – 9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Catherine Ashton (Trade)
Herself (External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy)
Succeeded by Karel De Gucht (Trade)
Štefan Füle (Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy)

In office
22 November 2004 – 1 December 2009
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Chris Patten
Succeeded by Catherine Ashton (High Representative for FASP)
Herself (Trade and Neighbourhood Policy)

In office
4 February 2000 – 20 October 2004
Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel
Preceded by Wolfgang Schüssel
Succeeded by Ursula Plassnik

Born 5 September 1948 (1948-09-05) (age 61)
Salzburg, Austria
Political party People's Party
Spouse(s) Wolfgang Sterr (1974–1983)
Francisco Ferrero Campos (1993–present)
Alma mater University of Salzburg
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism

Benita Ferrero-Waldner (born 5 September 1948) is the European Commissioner for Trade and an Austrian diplomat and politician. She is a member of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP).


Born in Salzburg, she took her matura exams in 1966 and then studied law, receiving a doctorate from the University of Salzburg in 1970. Until 1983 she worked in the private sector. Only in 1984 did she enter the diplomatic service. One of her most influential positions was Chef de protocole for Secretary General Boutros-Ghali at the United Nations in New York.

From 1995 until 2000 she served as Staatssekretärin in two governments led by Social Democrats Franz Vranitzky and Viktor Klima. When Wolfgang Schüssel became Chancellor of Austria early in 2000 he made Ferrero-Waldner his Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position she held until October 2004, when she was succeeded by Ursula Plassnik.

In January 2004 it was announced that Ferrero-Waldner would run for Federal President to succeed Thomas Klestil in July 2004. Her candidature was supported by the Austrian People's Party; her only opponent was Heinz Fischer. However, she lost the election on April 25.

In late July 2004 Ferrero-Waldner was nominated the successor of Franz Fischler as Austria's European Commissioner. She took office on 22 November. Her portfolio is Foreign Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy.

As the EU's External Affairs Commissioner, Ms. Ferrero-Waldner is credited with being the key diplomat in the 24 July 2007 release of 5 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor imprisoned by Libya. They had been held more than 8 years on charges of purposefully infecting children with HIV, and have continued to profess their innocence. The commissioner made many trips to Libya and met with the prisoners regularly. She also worked to improve conditions for children infected with HIV/Aids.

In September 2009 she ran for the post of UNESCO Director-General but lost to the Bulgarian candidate Irina Bokova.

Private life

From 1974 until 1983 Waldner was married to Wolfgang Sterr, a Bavarian high school teacher. However, their marriage ended in divorce. In 1993 Waldner married Francisco Ferrero Campos, a lecturer in Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Vienna.

After her previous marriage had finally been annulled Ferrero-Waldner married her husband again in church in December 2003. Although the wedding was a private ceremony, the news was immediately leaked to the press. This, some of Ferrero-Waldner's critics claimed, was done intentionally to attract potential voters as the Austrian Federal President is directly elected and Austria is a predominantly Roman Catholic country rooted in tradition. The couple do not have any children.

Ferrero-Waldner's determinedly friendly smile has earned her the nickname Ferrero-Küsschen ("Ferrero Kiss"), after a sweet similar to Ferrero Rocher, produced by Ferrero for the Austrian, German and Swiss markets.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Wolfgang Schüssel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ursula Plassnik
Preceded by
Franz Fischler
Austrian European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Johannes Hahn
Preceded by
Chris Patten
European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Catherine Ashton
as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Succeeded by
as European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy
Preceded by
Catherine Ashton
as European Commissioner for Trade
European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Karel De Gucht
as European Commissioner for Trade
Preceded by
as European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
Succeeded by
Štefan Füle
as European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy


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