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Josep Borrell Fontelles

Josep Borrell in Salamanca, Castilla y León, 14 October 2005.

In office
20 July 2004 ‚Äď 16 January 2007
Preceded by Pat Cox
Succeeded by Hans-Gert P√∂ttering

Born April 24, 1947 (1947-04-24) (age 62)
La Pobla de Segur, Spain
Political party Spanish Socialist Workers Party
Party of European Socialists
Profession Aeronautical engineer
Religion Roman Catholic

Josep Borrell Fontelles (La Pobla de Segur, 24 April 1947) is a Spanish Catalan politician. He was nominated President of the European University Institute on 12 December 2008. He will assume this position in January 2010. Borrell was President of the European Parliament from 20 July 2004 until 16 January 2007. Elected for the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), he sits with the Party of European Socialists group, and is the leader of the Spanish delegation. As of January 2007 he is chair of the Committee on Development.

In the presidential vote, out of 700 MEPs he received an absolute majority with 388 votes at the first ballot. The other two candidates were the Polish Liberal BronisŇāaw Geremek (208 votes) and the French communist Francis Wurtz (51 votes). As part of a deal with the conservative faction in the parliament, the EPP, he was succeeded as president of the parliament by the German conservative politician Hans-Gert P√∂ttering in the second part of this term, which is from 2007 to June 2009.

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Background

He was born and grew up in the village of La Pobla de Segur, where his father owned a small bakery. His very basic education was supplemented by reading, but he was able to complete his secondary education in Lleida. He went to Barcelona to study industrial accounting, but left after a year in 1965 to go and study aeronautical engineering at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), graduating in 1969. During this time he also began to study economic sciences at the Complutense University. In the summer of 1969 he stayed on a kibbutz in Israel, where he met his future French wife Carolina Mayeur, from whom he is now divorced. In 1975 he worked in Madrid as an engineer for the state petroleum company Campsa, joining PSOE in the same year even though it was an illegal party until February 1977. In 1979 he became a member of the Madrid Parliament until 1982 when the new PSOE government of Felipe Gonz√°lez appointed him to a post within the Ministry of Economy with responsibility for fiscal policy. In 1986 he was elected to the Spanish Parliament representing Barcelona Province and remained an MP until 2004. In 1998 he ran against PSOE's General Secretary Joaquin Almunia in an primary election intended to determine who the party would nominate as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2000 General Elections, but due to internal pressures within the PSOE, Borrell resigned from candidacy in 1999. He had to publicly deny rumors that he was a homosexual, while asserting his respect for homosexuals[1]. In 2004 Prime Minister and PSOE's General Secretary Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero proposed Borrell to lead the Socialist Ticket in the 2004 European Elections managing to win the elections by a narrow margin.

Since 1998, Borrell has been in a relationship with Cristina Narbona, ex-Environment Minister of Spain.[2]

Criticism

On 28 September 2006, Josep Borrell argued that there are Nordic countries in the European Union which have not experienced the rigours of war, demonstrating a lack of knowledge in history. Two of the three Nordic countries which are in the EU were involved in conflict during World War II. Finland was attacked by the Soviet Union, while Denmark suffered from German occupation. Borrell was trying to defend the decision by the European Parliament to acquire their premises in Strasbourg, and pointed out that much of the opposition came from people in countries which supposedly had not experienced war. His remarks drew sharp criticism in papers throughout the Nordic countries. The Swedish language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet in Finland offered an open invitation to Borrell to visit the graves of war victims in Finland, while Finnish MEPs called Borrell's knowledge about European history "embarrassing".[3]

The next day, Borrell claimed he was only referring to Sweden, and apologized for offending people with his comments. This remark only served to worsen the criticism, with Danish, Norwegian and Finnish papers pointing out a lack of knowledge not only about history but also about geography.

Notes

External links

Preceded by
Pat Cox
President of the European Parliament
2004‚Äď2007
Succeeded by
Hans-Gert Pöttering







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