Frits Bolkestein

Frederik "Frits" Bolkestein (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfreːdərɪk frɪdz ˈbɔlkəstɛi̯n] (listen);[1] born 4 April 1933) is a retired Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and businessperson who served as European Commissioner from 16 September 1999 until 22 November 2004.

Frits Bolkestein
Frits Bolkestein in 2007
European Commissioner
[Portfolios]
In office
16 September 1999  22 November 2004
PresidentRomano Prodi
Preceded byMario Monti
as European Commissioner for Internal Market
Succeeded byCharlie McCreevy
as European Commissioner for Internal Market
President of the
Liberal International
In office
15 April 1996  18 April 2000
Preceded bySir David Steel
Succeeded byAnnemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck
Leader of the People's Party
for Freedom and Democracy
In office
30 April 1990  30 July 1998
Deputy
See list
Preceded byJoris Voorhoeve
Succeeded byHans Dijkstal
Parliamentary leader in the
House of Representatives
In office
30 April 1990  30 July 1998
Preceded byJoris Voorhoeve
Succeeded byHans Dijkstal
Parliamentary groupPeople's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
Minister of Defence
In office
24 September 1988  7 November 1989
Prime MinisterRuud Lubbers
Preceded byPiet Bukman (Ad interim)
Succeeded byRelus ter Beek
State Secretary for
Economic Affairs
In office
5 November 1982  14 July 1986
Serving with Piet van Zeil
Prime MinisterRuud Lubbers
Preceded byWim Dik
Succeeded byEnneüs Heerma
Member of the House
of Representatives
In office
14 September 1989  21 September 1999
In office
3 June 1986  24 September 1988
In office
16 January 1978  5 November 1982
Parliamentary groupPeople's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
Personal details
Born
Frederik Bolkestein

(1933-04-04) 4 April 1933 (age 88)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
NationalityDutch
Political partyPeople's Party for
Freedom and Democracy

(from 1975)
RelativesGerrit Bolkestein
(grand-father)
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands
Alma materOregon State University
(B.Math)
University of Amsterdam
(MMath, MPhil, MA)
London School of Economics
(M.Econ)
Leiden University
(LL.M)
OccupationPolitician · Businessperson · Corporate director · Nonprofit director · Author · Playwright · Screenwriter · Political pundit · Lobbyist · Historian · professor
Website(in Dutch) Official site

Bolkestein studied Mathematics at the Oregon State University getting a Bachelor of Mathematics degree and continued his study at the University of Amsterdam obtaining a Master of Mathematics degree followed by a postgraduate education in Philosophy and Greek literature at his alma mater obtaining Masters of Philosophy and Arts degrees, followed by another postgraduate study in Economics at the London School of Economics obtaining a Master of Economics degree and additional study in Law at the Leiden University obtaining a Master of Laws degree. Bolkestein worked as a corporate director for Royal Dutch Shell from May 1960 until July 1976 and as a manager for an engineering company in Amsterdam from September 1976 until January 1978. Bolkestein became a Member of the House of Representatives shortly after election of 1977 taking office on 16 January 1978 serving as a frontbencher and spokesperson for Economic Affairs. After the election of 1982 Bolkestein was appointed as State Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Cabinets Lubbers I taking office on 5 November 1982. After the election of 1986 Bolkestein was not offered a cabinet post in the new cabinet and returned to the House of Representatives on 3 June 1986 serving as a frontbencher and spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International trade. Bolkestein was appointed as Minister of Defence in the Cabinet Lubbers II following a cabinet reshuffle taking office on 24 September 1988. After the election of 1989 Bolkestein again returned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 14 September 1989. Shortly after the election Party Leader and Parliamentary leader Joris Voorhoeve announced he was stepping down and Bolkestein announced his candidacy to succeed and was selected as his successor on 30 April 1990.

For the election of 1994 Bolkestein served as Lijsttrekker (top candidate) and following a successful cabinet formation with Labour Leader Wim Kok and fellow Liberal Leader Hans van Mierlo formed the Cabinet Kok I with Bolkestein opting to remain as Parliamentary leader. Bolkestein also served as President of the Liberal International from 15 April 1996 until 18 April 2000. For the election of 1998 Bolkestein again served as Lijsttrekker (top candidate) but shortly thereafter announced that he was stepping down on 30 July 1998 but continued to serve in the House of Representatives as a backbencher. In August 1999 Bolkestein was nominated as the next European Commissioner in the Prodi Commission, and was giving the heavy portfolios of Internal Market and Services and Taxation and Customs serving from 16 September 1999 until 22 November 2004.

Bolkestein retired from active politics at 71 and became active in the public sector as a non-profit director, and worked as a distinguished professor of International relations and Governmental Studies at his alma mater of Leiden and the Delft University of Technology from November 2004 until November 2010. Following his retirement Bolkestein continued to be active as a advocate and lobbyist for more European integration and strengthening Transatlantic relations. Bolkestein is known for his abilities as a skillful debater and accomplished negotiator and as of 2021 continues to comment on political affairs as a statesman.