Born in Budapest on October 4, 1932,
Belgian, Minister of State
In 1959, Etienne Davignon joined the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was Head of the Cabinets of Ministers Spaak and Harmel. From 1969, he was responsible for the Political Department of the Ministry until his departure in 1977 when he joined the European Commission.
He was a key figure behind the report on the future of the Atlantic Alliance (Harmel report) and presided over the committee which prepared the first proposals regarding political cooperation between EEC members (Davignon report): 1974-1975.
Following the oil crisis in 1973, Davignon chaired the International Conference which established an oil sharing treaty and from 1974 to 1977 and was the first President of the International Energy Agency.
After joining in 1977, Davignon was appointed Vice President of the European Commission in 1981, in charge of industry, research and energy until January 1985. He was active in the restructuring of European
industry, promoting new research cooperative ventures in Information Technology and Telecommunication and negotiated key agreements with the US, Japan and China.
In 1985, he joined Société Générale de Belgique, Belgium’s leading holding company, and became Chairman in 1989 and Vice-Chairman in 2001. From 2003 – 2010, he served as Vice-Chairman of Suez-Tractebel.
Davignon is Chairman of Genfina, SN Airholding, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Fondation P.-H. Spaak, Institut Egmont and ICHEC and Vice-Chairman of CMB. He was also a professor at Leuven Catholic University from 1980 - 1983 and is Chairman of the Conseil de l’Institut Catholique des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Brussels and the “Advisory Board” of “Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). In addition, he is President of Friends of Europe, an independent think tank for EU policy analysis and debate, as well as a member of the boards of Gilead and Royal Sporting Club d’Anderlecht.