Thu, November 19, 2009
World > Europe

Backgrounder: Key facts about EU's new president

2009-11-19 21:25:48 GMT2009-11-20 05:25:48 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Brussels, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Belgium Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy was chosen as EU's first full-time president at a special summit Thursday night in Brussels.

Born in October 1947 in Brussels, Van Rompuy was educated at the Jesuit Sint-Jan Berchmans College in central Brussels, then studied philosophy and economics at the Catholic University of Leuven.

Before entering politics, Van Rompuy worked at the Belgian central bank from 1972 to 1975. He served as deputy prime minister and minister of budget from 1993 to 1999. He won high reputation for his work on dramatically driving down the country's pubic debt.

After his party's defeat in the 1999 Belgian general election, he became a member of the Chamber of Representatives. In 2004, he was designated Minister of State. As a senior member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V, previously called CVP), Van Rompuy was elected as the president of the Chamber of Representatives in July 2007. In December 2008, he was appointed prime minister of Belgium, succeeding Yves Leterme.

Since taking office last year, the prime minister has showed great skills in resolving conflicts and brought political stability to the linguistically divided country.

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