Viscount Etienne Davignon

Curriculum Vitae

1959: Joins the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1961 - 1965: Attache and then head of the cabinet of the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Paul-Henri Spaak.

This was at the time that Belgium was backing the secession movement in Katanga and the rise to power of the future dictator of Zaire Mubutu. In 1961, the Belgian intelligence services assassinated independence leader Patrice Lumumba.[1]

Davignon played an important and active role in the Belgian campaign against Lumumba, a 2001 parliamentary enquiry concluded ("Parliamentary Committee of enquiry in charge of determining the exact circumstances of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the possible involvement of Belgian politicians").[2]

1974 - 1977: President of the International Energy Agency.

1977 - 1984: Vice President of the European Economic Community's Commission and Commissioner for Industry.

From this post Davignon played an indispensable role in the formation of the European Round Table of Industrialist (ERT), a highly influential group composed of the leaders of 40+ multinational companies. Together with Volvo's Pehr Gyllenhammar, Davignon drew up the first list of potential members, inside the Berlaymont building. Davignon personally recruited most of the members of the original group of ERT. The first associates of ERT developed the organisation's agenda from inside Berlaymont, in the presence of Mr. Davignon.[3]

1985: Joins Societe Generale de Belgique (which is not a part of the French Societe Generale).

1989 - 2001: After the take-over of Societe Generale by the Suez group, Davignon became the President of Societe Generale de Belgique.

1986 - 2001: Prominent member of the ERT representing the Suez-owned Societe Generale de Belgique.

2001 - 2003: Vice Chairman of Societe Generale de Belgique.

2003: Suez, the sole shareholder of Societe Generale de Belgique, decides to merge the company with Tractebel and form Suez-Tractebel. Davignon becomes Vice President of the new Suez subsidiary.


  • Current directorships and offices held : Chairman of Compagnie Maritime Belge, Compagnie des Wagons-Lits, Recticel*, Sibeka, SN Airholding and Palais des Beaux-Arts (Belgium), Vice-Chairman of SUEZ-TRACTEBEL (Belgium), Director of Accor* (France), Cumerio, Real Software, Sofina SA*, SN Brussels Airlines (Belgium), and Gilead* (United States).
    * Listed companies. Source: CV on Suez website, accessed 29 March 2007.
  • Chairman of Bilderberg Group.
  • Chairman of CSR Europe.
  • Member of the board of Suez. According to the Suez website, Davignon holds 11,111 Suez shares, which are currently worth more than 350,000 euro.
  • Special adviser to the Development Commissioner Louis Michel.


  1. Belgium has officially apologised for this assassination: see for instance "Lumumba apology: Congo's mixed feelings", http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1805546.stm
  2. Parliamentary Committee of enquiry in charge of determining the exact circumstances of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the possible involvement of Belgian politicians. http://www.africawithin.com/lumumba/conclusions.htm
  3. Maria Green Cowles: "Setting the Agenda for a New Europe: The ERT and EC 1992", Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol.33, No. 4; December 1995, p.504-505 and Justin Greenwood, "Interest Representation in the European Union", Palgrave - Macmillan, Hampshire and New York 2003, page 80.