| Guy Verhofstadt |
|Born||11 April 1953|
Dendermonde, East Flanders, Belgium
|Alma mater||Ghent University|
|Member of||Banned from Russia 2015, Club de Madrid, Council on the Future of Europe, European Leadership Network, Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, Open Society Foundations/Reliable allies, WEF/Global Leaders for Tomorrow/1993|
|Interests|| • EU|
Former Belgian Prime-Minister. European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group. Banned from Russia since 2015.
Guy Maurice Marie Louise Verhofstadt is a former Belgian Prime Minister and leader of the Leader of the European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe from 2009 to 2019. He has been the European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group since 2016. He is an advocate for federalisation of the European Union.
He became president of the Liberal Flemish Student's union (1972–1974) while studying law at the University of Ghent. He quickly became the secretary of Willy De Clercq, who was at that time the president of the Flemish liberal party (PVV). In 1982, at age 29, he became president of the party. In 1985 he was elected into the Chamber of Deputies, and became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Budget under Prime Minister Wilfried Martens. Because of his economic views and his young age, he became known as "Baby Thatcher".
After being ousted from government he became leader of the opposition. After a failed attempt to form a government in November 1991, his party (now renamed Flemish Liberals and Democrats) did not manage to win government. Verhofstadt resigned and disappeared from the political scene, only to return to the party's presidency in 1997 with a less radical image. He gradually moved away from neoliberalism, and became more of a centrist figure, a change which especially became clear during his first term as Prime Minister.
From July 12, 1999 to March 20, 2008, he was Belgian Prime Minister. During this time he formed three cabinets.
During the prelude to the Iraq War of 2003, Belgium joined France, Germany and Russia in opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. This opposition did not last long. In 2005, during a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, Verhofstadt said: "The time has come to draw a line under the tensions of the recent past. It makes little sense to continue arguing about who was right and who was wrong."
Belgium was one of the first countries to recognise Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence on 24 February 2008.
Since 2009, he has been a Member of the European Parliament, led the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) from 2009 to 2019, and founded the inter-parliamentarian federalist Spinelli Group, with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Isabelle Durant and Sylvie Goulard to reinvigorate the fight for a federal Europe. Famous supporters are Jacques Delors, Mario Monti, Andrew Duff, Elmar Brok, Pat Cox and Joschka Fischer. In this matter, in October 2012 he published the manifesto For Europe together with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a plea for a more integrated federal Europe.
He was the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe nominee for President of the European Commission in the 2014 European Parliament election, and has been the European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group since 2016.
In June 2018, Verhofstadt said there was a "circle of evil around our continent": Putin's Russia, Erdoğan's Turkey and Trump's United States. Verhofstadt added: "But our problem runs deeper than that, deeper than only foreign policy or external security. Europe has a fifth column in its ranks. ... I call them the cheerleaders of Putin: Le Pen, Wilders, Farage. ... Together with government leaders like Orbán, Kaczyński, Salvini: these people have only one goal and that is to destroy Europe, to kill our liberal democracy."
Well paid board memberships
Verhofstadt has been a member of the board of directors of the Belgian gas anchorage company Exmar since April 2010. An initial 3-year mandate was renewed in 2013. In 2013, he received a fee of 60,000 euros as a director.
Since May 2012, Verhofstadt has been an independent director of the Belgian holding company Sofina for three years. In 2013 he received 130,500 euros for this.
Verhofstadt was a member of the supervisory board of the Dutch Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, where he was a supervisory director from April 2008 to 2014, and subsequently vice-chairman of the supervisory board. In 2013 he was paid 43,100 euros for this.