Jean-Claude Juncker is one of the founding fathers of the euro and a pioneer of European unification. As Prime Minister of Luxembourg he was the longest-serving head of government in the European Union – with 18 years in office – as well as the longest-serving democratically elected head of government worldwide.
Jean-Claude Juncker studied law at the University of Strasbourg and earned his law degree in 1979. After he had joined Luxemburg’s Christian Social People’s Party in 1974 he was named parliamentary secretary for the CSV in 1979. Three years later he received his first government post when he was named secretary of state for employment and social security under CSV Prime Minister Pierre Werner. Juncker was elected to the legislature in 1984, and he was appointed to the cabinet of Prime Minister Jacques Santer as labour minister. In 1989 he was named finance minister and took a seat on the board of governors of the World Bank. He was elected chairman of the CSV in January 1990, and throughout 1991–92 he served as one of the chief architects and proponents of the Maastricht Treaty, the foundational document for the European Union.
When Santer became president of the EC in January 1995, Jean-Claude Juncker succeeded him as prime minister of Luxembourg. Juncker’s term in office was characterized by robust economic performance and he remained a prominent fixture in the upper echelons of European politics. From 2005 to 2013 Juncker helmed the Eurogroup and helped shape the response to the sovereign debt crisis in 2009. In 2014 Jean-Claude Juncker was elected by the European Parliament to succeed José Manuel Barroso as president of the EC. During his time in office he was confronted with a number of challenges facing the EU, including a sluggish economy, a series of terrorist attacks in Europe and Brexit which dominated Juncker’s five year term.
Jean-Claude Juncker was widely renowned to be a highly skilful mediator within the European Union. In 2006, he was awarded the ‘International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen for his contribution as an “engine and pioneer of European unification”. Among the numerous other awards the passionate European has received are the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Union Gold Medal with Star as well as honorary doctorates from various international universities.
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