Sicco Mansholt

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Sicco Mansholt
Sicco Mansholt 1974 (1).jpg
Mansholt in 1974
4th President of the European Commission
In office
22 March 1972 – 5 January 1973
Vice PresidentWilhelm Haferkamp
Preceded byFranco Maria Malfatti
Succeeded byFrançois-Xavier Ortoli
First Vice-President of the
European Commission
In office
7 January 1958 – 22 March 1972
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWilhelm Haferkamp
European Commissioner for Agriculture
In office
7 January 1958 – 22 March 1972
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byCarlo Scarascia-Mugnozza
Minister of Economic Affairs
In office
14 January 1948 – 20 January 1948
Ad interim
Prime MinisterLouis Beel
Preceded byGerardus Huysmans
Succeeded byJan van den Brink
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
3 July 1956 – 3 October 1956
In office
15 July 1952 – 7 September 1952
In office
27 July 1948 – 10 August 1948
In office
4 June 1946 – 18 July 1946
Parliamentary groupLabour Party
Minister of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food Supplies
In office
25 June 1945 – 1 January 1958
Prime Minister
Preceded byHans Gispen
as Minister of Commerce,
Industry and Agriculture

Jim de Booy
as Minister of Shipping
Succeeded byKees Staf (Ad interim)
Mayor of Wieringermeer
In office
30 April 1945 – 22 May 1945
Ad interim
Preceded byAris Saal
Succeeded byGerrit Gesenius Loggers
Personal details
Sicco Leendert Mansholt

(1908-09-13)13 September 1908
Ulrum, Netherlands
Died29 June 1995(1995-06-29) (aged 86)
Wapserveen, Netherlands
Political partyLabour Party (from 1946)
Other political
Social Democratic
Workers' Party
Henny Postel
(m. 1938; his death 1995)
Children2 sons and 2 daughters
Alma materNational Higher Agricultural School
(Bachelor of Science in Agriculture)
OccupationPolitician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Agronomist · Farmer · Lobbyist

Sicco Leendert Mansholt (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈsɪkoː ˈleːndərt ˈmɑnsɦɔlt]; 13 September 1908 – 29 June 1995) was a Dutch politician and diplomat of the defunct Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) and later the Labour Party (PvdA) and farmer who served as the President of the European Commission from 1 March 1972 until 5 January 1973.[1]

Mansholt worked as a farmer in Wieringermeer from 1937 until 1945. Mansholt joined the Dutch resistance against the German occupiers in 1940 and helpt shelter refugees. Following the end of World War II Mansholt was appointed as acting Mayor of Wieringermeer, serving from 30 April 1945 until 22 May 1945. After the end of the German occupation Queen Wilhelmina ordered the formation of a Cabinet of National unity to serve as a caretaker government and make preparations for a new election with Mansholt appointed as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supplies in the Cabinet Schermerhorn–Drees, taking office on 25 June 1945. Mansholt was elected as a Member of the House of Representatives after the election of 1946, taking office on 4 June 1946. Mansholt continued as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supplies in the Cabinet Beel I, taking office on 3 July 1946. Mansholt served as acting Minister of Economic Affairs from 14 January 1948 until 20 January 1948 following the resignation Gerardus Huysmans. After the election of 1948 Mansholt returned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 27 July 1948. Mansholt continued as Minister in the Cabinet Drees–Van Schaik, taking office on 7 August 1948. Mansholt served continuously as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supplies in the Cabinets Drees I, II and III and also served as a Member of the House of Representatives after the elections of 1952 and 1956, serving from 15 July 1952 until 7 September 1952 and from 3 July 1956 until 3 October 1956.

In December 1957 Mansholt was nominated as the first European Commissioner from the Netherlands in the First Hallstein Commission. Lardinois was giving the portfolio of Agriculture and was appointed as the first Vice-President of the European Commission. He resigned as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supplies on 1 January 1958 and the First Hallstein Commission was installed on 7 January 1958. Mansholt continued to serve as European Commissioner for Agriculture and Vice-President in the Second Hallstein Commission, the Rey Commission and the Malfatti Commission. In February 1972 Mansholt was nominated as the next President of the European Commission. The Mansholt Commission was installed on 1 March 1972 and oversaw the creation of the European Monetary System on 24 April 1972 and the first enlargement on 1 January 1973.[2] The Mansholt Commission was succeeded by the Ortoli Commission on 5 January 1973.

After his retirement Mansholt occupied numerous seats as a nonprofit director for supervisory boards for several international non-governmental organizations and research institutes (Institute of International Relations Clingendael, European Centre for Development Policy Management, Netherlands Atlantic Association, Transnational Institute, Club of Rome, Humanistic Association, Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities and the Carnegie Foundation) and as an advocate and lobbyist for European integration and Humanism.

Mansholt was known for his abilities as a negotiator and manager. Mansholt continued to comment on political affairs as a elder-statesman until his death. He holds the distinction as both the longest-serving Minister of Agriculture and European Commissioner from the Netherlands and as the only Dutchman to have served as President of the European Commission and is recognized as one of the Founding fathers of the European Union.

Early life and studies

Sicco Leendert Mansholt was born on 13 September 1908 in Ulrum, Groningen, Netherlands.[3]

Mansholt came from a socialist farmer's family in the Dutch province of Groningen. Both his father and grandfather were supporters of early socialist leaders such as Multatuli, Domela Nieuwenhuis, and Troelstra. His father, Lambertus H. Mansholt, was a delegate for the socialist SDAP party in the Groningen provincial chamber. His mother, Wabien Andreae, daughter of a judge in Heerenveen, was one of the first women to have studied Political Science. She organised political meetings for other women, usually in their own homes.

Together with two brothers and two sisters, Mansholt was raised at "Huis ter Aa," a grand villa in Glimmen.[4] He attended the HBS-school in Groningen and after that went to Deventer, to the School of Tropical Agriculture,[3] where he studied to become a tobacco farmer.


He moved to Java in the Dutch East Indies, nowadays Indonesia, and started work on a tea plantation.

He returned to the Netherlands in 1936, unhappy with the colonial system. He wanted to become a farmer and moved to the Wieringermeer, a polder, reclaimed in 1937. There he started his own farm.

He married Henny J. Postel in 1938, and they had two sons and two daughters.[3]

In the years of the Second World War he was an active member of the Resistance. He helped people who were in acute danger to hide in the Wieringermeerpolder; he organised clandestine food distributions for the western provinces.

United States Ambassador to the Netherlands Stanley Hornbeck, former President of the United States Herbert Hoover and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supplies Sicco Mansholt at Airport Schiphol on 8 April 1946.


Local politics

Mansholt became a member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) in 1937,[3] as a secretary of the local party. He had several public functions for the SDAP in Wieringermeer, including that of acting mayor of the Wieringermeer community.

Minister of Agriculture

Immediately after the war, in June 1945, socialist Labour Party (PvdA) Prime Minister Schermerhorn asked him to take a seat in his cabinet as minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Food Distribution. He was the youngest member of a cabinet, aged only 36.

He was a member of 6 cabinets in total: Schermerhorn-Drees in 1945; Beel in 1946; Drees-Van Schaik in 1948, and another three Drees administrations: 1951, 1952 and 1956. As Minister of Agriculture during this time, he was one of the key architects of the EC's Common Agricultural Policy. In 1954 the parliamentary debate about the budget for the Department of Agriculture was postponed: the Minister was ice-skating the 200 kilometer long Elfstedentocht in the Dutch province of Friesland, which he skated twice in his life.

European Commission

In 1958, he became one of the Commissioners of the new European Commission. He was Commissioner for Agriculture and vice-president of the institution. He modernized European agriculture. E. F. Schumacher is his book, 'Small is Beautiful' argues against The Mansholt Plan.[5]

He became President of the European Commission on 22 March 1972 (Mansholt Commission) and continued in that position until 5 January 1973. It was around that time he was heavily under the influence of Club of Rome.

Life after politics

Mansholt published his autobiography De Crisis (The Crisis) in 1974.[3]

He lived his last years in an old historic farm in the quiet village of Wapserveen, where he died on 29 June 1995.[3]

His daughter Lideke also died in 1995, aged 53.


Military decorations
Ribbon bar Decoration Country Date Comment
Verzetsherdenkingskruis 1940-1945.gif Resistance Memorial Cross Netherlands 30 April 1982
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
Ordre de la couronne de Chene GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown Luxembourg 8 March 1957
NLD Order of Orange-Nassau - Knight Grand Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 22 December 1958
BEL Kroonorde Grootkruis BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown Belgium 18 October 1968
Ordre du Merite agricole Commandeur 1999 ribbon.svg Commander of the Order of Agricultural Merit France 15 January 1970
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 7 Grosskreuz.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Merit Germany 5 May 1972
NLD Order of the Dutch Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands 18 December 1972 Elevated from Knight (25 June 1955)
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour France 1 January 1973

Honorary degrees

Honorary degrees
University Field Country Date Comment
Wageningen University Agronomy Netherlands 9 October 1956


  1. ^ "Mansholt, Sicco Leendert (1908–1995)" (in Dutch). Huygens ING. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  2. ^ Discover the former Presidents: The Mansholt Commission, Europa (web portal), Accessed 23 August 2007
  3. ^ a b c d e f (in Dutch) Dr. S.L. (Sicco) Mansholt, Parlement & Politiek. Retrieved on 10 February 2014.
  4. ^ (in Dutch) Albert F. Mellink, "Mansholt, Lambertus Helprig", Biografisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeidersbeweging in Nederland, 1986. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  5. ^ "(Type a title for your page here)". Retrieved 21 March 2019.