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The European Union has elected Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy as its first “president.” To elect the “president” of the EU (the president of the European Council – the plenipotentiary forum of the heads of state and government of the EU countries) and the “minister of foreign affairs” (high representative for foreign policy and security in the rank of deputy chairman of the European Commission), European leaders gathered for dinner in Brussels.
Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, unanimously elected by the EU leaders on Thursday in Brussels as the first president of this regional organization, will take up new duties on January 1, 2010, a spokesman for the EU Council told RIA Novosti.
According to him, for this reason, the upcoming EU winter summit in the Belgian capital on December 10-11 will be held under the leadership of Swedish Prime Minister Frederic Reinfeldt, whose country is currently chairing the organization.
As for the British Catherine Ashton, who was appointed the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the EU, she is expected to take up new duties as early as December 1.
Van Rompuy and Ashton became respectively the first President of the European Council (Plenipotentiary Forum of Heads of State and Government of the EU) and the first EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security in the rank of Vice President of the European Commission.
Both high posts in the structure of EU authorities are introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for a series of EU institutional reforms.
The consultations on the personalities who will lead the European Union in the near future have intensified after the Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty on November 2, thereby completing the process of its ratification by EU members.
The Lisbon Treaty was signed by the leaders of the EU countries in Portugal in December 2007. It provides for a number of institutional reforms of the European Union, including the introduction of new leadership positions, as well as a new procedure for the formation of the European Commission.
The contract comes into force on December 1 of this year.
Herman Achille van Rompuy was born on October 31, 1947 in the family of a professor of economics in the Etterbeek commune of Brussels. He is Flemish and a practicing Catholic.
After graduating from the Catholic University of Leuven, the future head of government received a diploma of a philosopher and economist.
Van Rompuy plunged into political life at the age of 16, and in this regard he even once said to himself that he was probably “only good for this.”
In 1972, he began an internship at the National Bank of Belgium and in parallel in 1973 led the youth party CVP-Jongeren.
After working at the National Bank in 1975, he becomes a member of the cabinet of the Prime Minister of Belgium, Leo Tyndemans, and from 1978 to 1980, he enters the cabinet of the Minister of Finance Gaston Geens, who later headed the government of Flanders.
After this, Van Rompuy has been engaged in political and economic studies for a long time and teaches at higher educational institutions in Belgium.
In parallel, Van Rompuy is making a political career. In 1978, he joined the bureau of the CVP party, which he led from 1988 to 1993. Today the party is called CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats).
In 1993, he becomes Minister of Finance, and Van Rompuy will hold this post until 1999. As a minister, politics managed to significantly reduce Belgium’s public debt.
Then van Rompuy takes the seat of a deputy in the House of Representatives – the lower house of the Belgian parliament, and in January 2004 he becomes state minister.
In July 2007, van Rompuy was elected Chairman of the House of Representatives, and in December 2008 became the 48th Prime Minister of the country.
Van Rompuy is married to biologist Belgian Geertrui Windels, whom he met in 1975, returning from a tourist trip to Kenya. They got married two years later.
Now Van Rompuy has two daughters and two sons: Laura and Elke, born in 1981 and 1983, and Peter and Thomas, born in 1980 and 1986. In 2008, van Rompuy became a grandfather.