| Josep Borrell |
|Born||24 April 1947|
|Alma mater||Technical University of Madrid, Complutense University of Madrid|
|Interests|| • censorship|
Josep Borrell Fontelles is a Spanish politician.
After completing primary education, the remote location of his home village in Catalonia led Josep Borrell to be home-schooled. He continued his higher education thanks to several scholarships, including from the March Foundation and the Fulbright Program. In 1964 he moved to Barcelona to study industrial engineering, but left after a year in 1965 to study aeronautical engineering at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), graduating in 1969.
In the summer of 1969 Borrell worked as volunteer at the Gal On kibbutz in Israel, where he met his future French wife Caroline Mayeur, from whom he is now divorced. During this time he also began to study a bachelor's degree and later a PhD in Economics at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Borrell also holds a degree from Stanford University, and a postgraduate in energy economics from the French Institute of Petroleum in Paris (France). In May 1976 Borrell defended his PhD thesis in economics at the UCM.
Borrell joined the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in 1975 and started his political activity during Spain's transition to democracy in the Socialist Grouping of Madrid. In the 1982 general election the PSOE won a landslide victory, returning the socialists to power for the first time since before the Franco dictatorship. Borrell was appointed to several prominent positions within the Ministry of Economy and Finance, first as General Secretary for the Budget and Public Spending (1982–1984), and then as Secretary of State for Finance (1984–1991). During his tenure as Secretary of State for Finance, Spain joined the European Economic Community in 1986.
In 1991 he joined the Council of Ministers as Minister of Public Works and Transport. He took a role in the process of selling of the state part of telecommunications in Spain.
EU political career
Borrell was elected to chair the Joint Congress-Senate Committee for the European Union in October 1999. Then, in 2001, Borrell was also appointed the Spanish parliament's representative on the Convention on the Future of Europe, which drafted the European Constitution that eventually led to the Treaty of Lisbon. During his time at the convention, he unsuccessfully pushed for a mention to a "federal model" in the draft.
In July 2004 Borrell was elected President of the European Parliament, as a result of an agreement between the conservative faction in the parliament EPP and the Socialists. He was the first newly elected MEP to hold the post since direct elections were held in 1979.
Step back from the political front
Borrell became president of the European University Institute, an institute involved in among other things energy, in January 2010. In 2012, he was forced to resign in the face of allegations of a conflict of interest. Borrell is being paid €300,000 a year as a board member of the Spanish energy company Abengoa.
In 2012, the University of Lleida appointed Borrell to a professorship of competition and regional development sponsored by energy company Repsol. He also held the Jean Monnet Chair at the Institute of International Studies at Complutense University of Madrid.
He also stood out as one of the most outspoken opponents of Catalan secessionism, and took a leading role in a mass rally defending the unity of Spain held in Barcelona on 8 October 2017, in which Borrell gave an impassionated speech demanding "not to bring up more frontiers" while displaying a European Union flag that he called "our estelada" (starred flag), bringing him back to the media first line.
Following investiture of Pedro Sánchez as new prime minister, Borrell was revealed on 5 June as the Sánchez's choice for the post of foreign minister in his new government. 22 years after the end of his last tenure as member of the Government of Spain, Borrell assumed the portfolio of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.
In September 2018 the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) settled a disciplinary action against Borrell opened in 2017 due to the later's insider trading in the sale of stocks of Abengoa (whose board of directors Borrell was a member of) in November 2015, sanctioning him with a fine of 30,000€.
During the U.S. regime change effort in Nicaragua, in December 2018 Borrell pressed the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, for an EU-wide involvement in the situation.
In May 2019 the Spanish Embassy in Caracas lodged Venezuelan activist Leopoldo López as guest following an violent attempt at regime change, as the later had been freed from house arrest by forces endorsing Juan Guaidó.
He stepped down from the office on 29 November 2019.
Back to European politics
For the 2019 European Parliament election in Spain, Borrell ran first in the PSOE list. During the electoral campaign he appealed to the unity of Europe and stressed the need for the EU member states to pool sovereignty in order to survive as civilization.
On 2 July 2019, President of the European Council Donald Tusk announced that the European Council would nominate Josep Borrell as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.] The portfolio had been reportedly beefed up with additional responsibilities in humanitarian aid, support of development policies in Africa and the external dimension of immigration. Also in July 2019 he announced the acquisition of double Argentine-Spanish citizenship, assumed on 18 July 2019, thus gaining the citizenship his father was born with.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, China sent medical aid and supplies to EU affected countries. Borrell warned that there is "a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’. He also said that "China is aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the US, it is a responsible and reliable partner."
“Disinformation in times of the coronavirus can kill. We have a duty to protect our citizens by making them aware of false information, and expose the actors responsible for engaging in such practices. In today's technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognised weapon of state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight.”
Josep Borrell (10 June 2020)