Pat Cox is a former Irish politician and television current affairs presenter. He was President of the European Parliament from 2002 to 2004 and served as a member of the parliament from 1989-2004. He is now a consultant for European Integration Solutions.
Born in Dublin but raised in Limerick, Cox first came to prominence as a journalist, then a presenter, with RTÉ’s Today Tonight, a four nights a week current affairs programme which dominated the Irish television schedules in the 1980s. Cox left the programme to become a political candidate. He was elected an MEP in 1989 for the constituency of Munster, representing the Progressive Democrats (PDs). In the 1992 General Election he was also elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD for Cork South Central.
Following Desmond O’Malley’s retirement from the party leadership in 1993, Cox stood for election to the post, but was beaten by Mary Harney. Cox became deputy leader.
Cox left the PDs in 1994 in a dispute over his seat as an MEP. It was expected that Cox would not contest his seat in the 1994 European Elections, with O’Malley, who had a large Munster base, becoming the party candidate. However Cox almost literally at the last minute chose to contest the seat as an independent, beating O’Malley, the PD candidate. On being elected, he resigned his Dáil seat and a by-election was held on November 10, 1994, which was won by Fine Gael.
He was elected president of the ELDR group in the European Parliament in 1998 and was unanimously re-elected Group President in June 1999 following the elections to the European Parliament. He resigned this post when he became President of the European Parliament on January 15, 2002 in accordance with an agreement between the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the ELDR groups at the start of the term (in the customary two-way split of the five-year Presidency of the European Parliament).
On 20 May 2004 he was awarded the Karlspreis for his achievements with regard to the enlargement of the European Union and for his work in promoting greater EU democratisation.
He did not contest the 2004 elections to the European parliament. The Christian Democrats (European People’s Party – EPP) and Socialist Groups agreed at the customary two-way split of the Presidency of the European Parliament. Josep Borrell Fontelles, a Spanish Socialist, assumed the Presidency on 20 July 2004, holding it until January 15, 2007.
Cox is a member of the Comite d’Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs. In 2006 he was elected President of European Movement, an international pro-European lobby association. In June 2009 Pat Cox temporarily stepped down as President and took over the position of the campaign director for the pro Lisbon treaty initiative Ireland for Europe. He resigned as president of European Movement in May 2013.
Also in 2009, Cox co-founded the European Privacy Association.
On 15 September 2010 Cox supported the new initiative Spinelli Group, which was founded to reinvigorate the strive for federalisation of the European Union (EU).
He is a Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He received the 2004 Charlemagne Prize for his efforts in the Eastward expansion of the European Union.
Since June 2012 Cox and Aleksander Kwaśniewski lead a European Parliament monitoring mission in Ukraine to monitor the criminal cases against Yulia Tymoshenko, Yuriy Lutsenko and Valeriy Ivaschenko.
Since 1 January 2015, he is the president of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe.