Sicco Leendert Mansholt

(b. 1908)

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(b. Ulrum, 13 Sept. 1908; d. Wapserveen, 29 June 1995)

Netherlandish; President of the EC 1972–3 Mansholt was born the son of a farmer. Both his parents were politically active in the Labour Party (SDAP). Once a farmer himself, he also joined the SDAP.

He specialized in tropical agriculture, but due to the economic depression of the 1930s he could not afford to buy or rent a farm himself. After working for two years at different places, he decided to try his luck in the Netherlands East Indies. From 1934 till 1936 he was employed at a tea plantation. Not at ease in the colonial world, he returned to the Netherlands as soon as there was an opportunity to become a (tenant-) farmer in the newly reclaimed land of the Wieringermeer. During the Second World War he actively participated in the resistance movement. Immediately after the war he was asked to become Minister of Agriculture, Food Supply and Fisheries, a post he was to retain until 1958. He was chairman of the Dutch delegation to the FAO in 1946. In the 1950s he developed plans for future European agricultural development. Following the Monnet–Schuman plans for a European Coal and Steel Community he suggested the creation of a common European agricultural market (first Mansholt Plan).

In 1958 Mansholt was appointed as member of the European Commission for Agricultural Affairs. In 1967 he was elected Vice-President, and from March 1972 he acted as President of the EC until his resignation in 1973. When in the 1960s problems of agricultural surpluses arose, Mansholt came with a second Mansholt Plan to redevelop European agriculture. This plan failed to secure full ministerial backing, however, and was only partially carried out. Years later Mansholt admitted that he regretted not having resigned on that occasion. Impressed by the report of the Club of Rome Mansholt tried in vain to convince the EC of the urgency of solving problems concerning environmental pollution, energy, world food supply, ecology, and the increase of population. After his retirement in 1973 he continued to beg attention for a more ecological approach to economical development. Until his death in 1995 he remained an ardent advocate of the renewal of agricultural policy through a third Mansholt Plan: direct control of production together with guaranteed prices.

Subjects: Politics.

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