Jan Willem Beijen (Beyen)

(b. 1897)

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(b. Utrecht, 2 May 1897; d. The Hague, 29 Apr. 1976)

Netherlandish; Foreign Secretary 1952–6 Beyen (as the name is usually written) started a banking career in 1925 after serving as an official of the Ministry of Finance (1918–23), and one year as secretary of the board of NV Philips at Eindhoven. As manager of the Rotterdamsche Bank (1927–35) he frequently took part in international negotiations: he was the delegate of the Dutch government to the World Economic Conference in London (1933). In 1935 he was appointed vice-president, in 1937 president of the Bank for International Settlements in Basle. He found himself in 1940 in London as financial director of Unilever in 1940 and served as financial councillor to the Dutch government in exile. He took part in preliminary negotiations which were to lead to the formation of Benelux. Heading the Dutch delegation in Bretton Woods (July 1944) he presented a proposal for post-war economic and financial regional settlements. In 1946 he was appointed director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Washington. In 1948 he also became executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

Beyen was surprised by the invitation to become Dutch Foreign Secretary in 1952. He had never been a member of a political party and owed his appointment partly to the refusal of the Socialist Prime Minister Willem Drees to accept a Catholic candidate for the Foreign Office at a time when all other foreign ministers in the other five EEC member states were Catholics. A compromise was reached in the appointment of Beyen as Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of European and multilateral affairs, and of the Catholic J. Luns as Minister without Portfolio charged with matters relating to the United Nations and bilateral affairs. Beyen was an active proponent of economic integration. After the rejection of the European Defence Community, he persuaded P. H. Spaak (Belgium) and J. Bech (Luxembourg) to join him in a new initiative which led via conferences in Messina in 1955 and Venice in 1956 to the Treaty of Rome (1957). The experiment with two ministers at the Foreign Office, one of whom (Beyen) was an active European while the other (Luns) advocated a more Atlanticist approach, was abandoned in 1956 when Luns was appointed the sole Minister of Foreign Affairs. From 1958 to 1963 Beyen served as Dutch ambassador in Paris. Once retired, he was responsible for a World Bank economic mission to Morocco.

Subjects: Politics.

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