Karel Van Miert

As a member of the Executive Commission, the policy making body of the European Union, Karel Van Miert is charged with maintaining and developing the Union's industrial competitiveness both internally and in relation to its rivals on the world market. Formerly EU commissioner of transportation, Van Miert has written extensively on European integration. As competition commissioner, he has pledged to integrate wider social and industrial issues into the application of the EU's competition rules.

A Belgian, Van Miert was born in 1942 as the eldest of nine children. After receiving a degree in diplomatic sciences with honors from the University of Ghent in 1966, he won an internship with the European Commission. Upon completion of the internship, he undertook a course of post-graduate study at the European University Center of Nancy. His private-sector career spanned the following 12 years, during which time he developed interest and expertise in international law, academic research and instruction, and the political life of the EU.

In 1976, Van Miert's political career began and was characterized for the next three years by successful leadership roles in the Belgian Socialist Party, the Flemish wing of the Socialist Party, and the Confederation of Socialist Parties of the European Community. In 1979, he was elected to the European parliament. Van Miert remained a European parliamentarian until 1985 when he was elected to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. In 1989, he was appointed commissioner of the European Communities in charge of transport, credit and investment, and consumer policy. In 1993, he was reappointed as commissioner of the European Union in charge of competition, personnel and administration policy.