José Manuel Barroso

José Manuel Barroso was President of the European Commission, prior to which he served as the Prime Minister of Portugal. He led the Commission during a period immediately following the expansion of the Union into eastern Europe and taking in the fallout from the financial crisis and a range of diplomatic and international challenges.

After an academic career in economics, international affairs and law, taking in periods at the Universities of Lisbon and Geneva, as well as a visiting professor at the Georgetown University in Washington DC, José Manuel entered parliamentary politics in his native Portugal as a member of the PPD (Democratic Popular Party).

Appointed Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, within a few years José Manuel became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation. It was in this role that he achieved his first international success, driving an armistice in the Angolan civil war, a bloody conflict which had at the time raged for 25 years. He was then promoted to Foreign Minister, a role he held until the governing party lost the 1995 general election. Whilst in office he also played a leading role in moves that led to independence for East Timor from Indonesia.

In opposition José Manuel chaired Portugal’s Foreign Affairs Committee and was Vice President of the European People’s Party before becoming leader of the PSD (the Social Democratic Party and successor to the PPD). He led the party into a coalition government which saw him become Prime Minister. His time in charge saw him successfully manage Portugal’s national deficit as well as taking a leading role in the Iraq conflict before he was nominated as President of the European Commission.

Spending a decade as President of the EU’s executive and legislative branch, José Manuel handled issues from the Treaty of Lisbon to the introduction of single market initiatives. An adherent of a closer, federalised union he has been an outspoken critic of all sides in the Brexit debate. Since leaving the Commission, he has returned to academia with roles at Princeton, the Woodrow Wilson School, and the University of Geneva. He is also the non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker was one of the founding fathers of the euro, a pioneer of European unification, and Prime Minister of Luxembourg. After 18 years in office, he stepped down in December 2013, as the longest-serving head of government of any European Union state and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world.

Widely renowned to be a highly skilful mediator within the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker was President of the Eurogroup between 2005 and 2013 and President of the European Commission between 2014 and 2019.

Elected to Luxemburg’s Chamber of Deputies for the Christian Social People's Party in 1984, Jean-Claude Juncker was immediately promoted to Jacques Santer's cabinet as Minister for Work. He was Luxembourg's Minister for Finances from 1989 to 2009. Juncker was a key architect of the Maastricht Treaty, and was largely responsible for clauses on economic and monetary union. A highly skilled economist, he held the roles of Governor of the World Bank, and the IMF. He became Prime Minister in 1995, and served two six-month terms as President of the European Council, in 1997 and 2005.

In 2006, Jean-Claude Juncker was awarded the 'International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen for his contribution as an "engine and pioneer of European unification". At the ceremony, former German Chancellor Kohl, recognised him as an optimist who had never doubted the European cause. He has also won many other awards including "European of The Year" and "European Banker of the Year".