Herman Van Rompuy

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© Photo: Belgian Federal Government
Joe Biden (left) and Herman Van Rompuy (right), meeting March 2009

Herman Achille Van Rompuy (born in Etterbeek, Belgium, October 31 1947) is a Belgian politician, member of the Flemish Christian-Democrat party (CD&V).

On 30 December 2008 Herman Van Rompuy became prime minister of Belgium and less than a year later, on November 19, 2009, he was appointed as the first permanent president (chairman) of the European Council. The European council is the highest political body of the European Union and its chairman is informally referred to as the "President of Europe". The new position—President of the European Council—was created by the Treaty of Lisbon that was finally ratified by all 27 EU member states in November 2009. It came into effect on 1 December 2009.

In 1968 Mr. Van Rompuy received a bachelor's degree in Philosophy and in 1971 a master's degree (licentiaat) in Applied Economics, both from the Catholic University of Leuven (Louvain). He worked at the Belgian central bank from 1972 to 1975 and was Vice President of the Flemish Christian democrat (CD&V, CVP at the time) youth section from 1973 to 1975. From 1978 he was a member of the National Bureau of the CVP. He worked in ministerial cabinets and became chairman of the Flemish Christian democrat party in 1988, a position from which he resigned when he became budget minister in September 1993. He remained in that function until July 1999, when his party was defeated in the Belgian general elections. Herman Van Rompuy was Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies from July 2007 to December 2008, when he was asked by King Albert II to become Prime Minister of Belgium.

Herman Van Rompuy is a devout Roman Catholic and a firm believer in Catholic doctrine. He has written several books (in Flemish) and has as a hobby the composition of Haiku poems. He is married to Geertrui Windels and father of two sons and two daughters.