| Henri Simonet |
|Born||10 May 1931|
|Died||15 February 1996 (Age 64)|
|Alma mater||Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Columbia University|
|Member of||Trilateral Commission|
|Party||Socialist Party (Belgium)|
Transatlantic Belgian politician, Bilderberg Steering committee.
Henri François Simonet was a Belgian politician. Of increasingly transatlantic positions, and a member of the Bilderberg steering committee, he wrote a working paper on A European's Thoughts on the State of the Alliance for the 1982 Bilderberg. From 1977-1983 Simonet worked as the President of the Egmont Institute.
Simonet began his political life as a member of the Socialist Party (PS). He was mayor of Anderlecht between 1966 and 1984, succeeding the long-serving Joseph Bracops. Like Bracops, Simonet dominated the local political scene to such an extent that the ambitious Philippe Moureaux moved to neighbouring Molenbeek-Saint-Jean to pursue a career there. In 1985 Simonet left the Socialists to join the Liberal Reformist Party (PRL) where he espoused increasingly transatlantic positions.
As mayor of Anderlecht, Simonet presided over considerable changes to what had been a largely industrial and working class community, attracting new development in the form of the Erasmus Hospital, a teaching hospital tied to the ULB on whose administrative council Simonet served. Christian D'Hoogh succeeded Simonet as mayor of Anderlecht.
In January 1972, Simonet became Minister of Economic Affairs in the Gaston Eyskens government. Together with Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy André Baeyens, he concluded a secret agreement with the Shah's Iran on the construction of an Iranian oil refinery in Belgium, on the border of Limburg and Liège. The intention was that a pipeline network would be built through Flanders and Wallonia with branches to neighboring countries, creating an Iranian gasoline network in Belgium. Henri Simonet signed a convention with the Iranian government on the establishment of the refinery on 21 december 1972 on behalf of the Belgian government. On April 18, 1973, the issue grew into a scandal, the so-called Ibramco affair, when journalist Leo Schrooten revealed that the agreement was concluded without the knowledge of the Belgian government and primarily served the interests of the Belgian Socialist Party. Moreover, the agreement was very vague, and in the end the project never got off the ground.
Simonet was vice-chairman of the European Commission from 1973 to 1977 and Minister for Regional Economic Development in 1978 and 1979. In February 1974, he took part in the International Energy Conference in Washington. It was then that he observed the limits of EU solidarity faced with the situation provoked by the oil embargo and the weight of national interests. In spite of France’s reluctance, he would succeed in connecting the Commission to the work of the International Energy Agency so that, in case of a crisis in supplies, the measures which would be decided there would be applied in the Community.
On the national plan, Simonet was Minister of Foreign Affairs and before as Minister of Economics Affairs. He was unofficial candidate for the post of Secretary General of NATO. He was involved in a political and financial scandal, through his wife Marie-Louise Angenet, in a case of arms sales to the junta governments of Argentina and Uruguay. The scandal was revealed by the weekly magazine Pour, which devoted its last three issues before it closed in 1982 to a complete dossier entitled "the Simonet connection". According to the magazine, which published numerous photocopies of confidential documents, the wife of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marie Louise Simonet-Angenet, was appointed at the end of 1977 CEO of the Brussels company of Auto Transport (BAT), manufacturer of the BDX armored car, whose characteristics make it also ideal to suppress riots.
After PS president André Cools stopped giving Simonet a ministerial post in 1980, he came into more and more conflict with his party, where he was part of the right-wing and transatlantic wing. He was also a supporter of a unitary Belgium, which caused him to become more and more isolated within the Federalist-minded PS. In October 1983, Simonet stepped down from the PS faction in the chamber because he disagreed with his party's stance on the missile issue. Simonet was an unconditional defender of the NATO double decision to deploy US nuclear missiles in Florennes, while his party strongly opposed it. As a result, Simonet was also removed from the PS party office and the party requested that he relinquish his political mandates. In April 1984 he first left Anderlecht's municipal politics and in May 1984 he resigned as an MP.
His son Jacques Simonet, who made his political career in the liberal Liberal Reformist Party, served twice as Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region (1999-2000; 2004) and as mayor of Anderlecht from 2000 until his death in 2007.
Events Participated in
|Bilderberg/1967||31 March 1967||2 April 1967||St John's College (Cambridge)|
|Possibly the only Bilderberg meeting held in a university college rather than a hotel (St. John's College, Cambridge)|
|Bilderberg/1971||23 April 1971||25 April 1971||US|
|The 20th Bilderberg, 89 guests|
|Bilderberg/1975||25 April 1975||27 April 1975||Turkey|
Golden Dolphin Hotel
|The 24th Bilderberg Meeting, 98 guests|
|Bilderberg/1977||22 April 1977||24 April 1977||Imperial Hotel|
|The 25th Bilderberg, held in Torquay, England.|
|Bilderberg/1979||27 April 1979||29 April 1979||Austria|
Clubhotel Schloss Weikersdorf
|27th Bilderberg, 95 guests, Austria|
|Bilderberg/1980||18 April 1980||20 April 1980||Germany|
|The 28th Bilderberg, held in West Germany, unusually exposed by the Daily Mirror|
|Bilderberg/1982||14 May 1982||16 May 1982||Norway|
|The 30th Bilderberg, held in Norway.|
- Soledad Gallego-Díaz, « Escándalo político en torno al ministro de Exteriores belga », El País, 31 mai 1980
- Simonet stapt uit PS-fraktie, Gazet van Antwerpen, 28 oktober 1983.