Frans Timmermans was born on 6 May 1961 in Maastricht, South Netherlands. After taking a degree in French Language and Literature at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands) and a postgraduate course in European Law and French Literature the University of Nancy (France), he started to work as civil servant in the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1987, focusing specifically on European integration. Due to his studies and interests, Timmermans is reported to speak seven different languages: Limburgish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Russian.
After a short experience as Vice-Secretary in the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, in 1995 he had the chance to work hand in hand with Hans van den Broek, former European commissioner.
He was elected six times as MP for the Partij van de Arbeid (the Labour Dutch Party) from 1998 to 2007. Later on, he was also able to cover important roles in the government: he was Minister of European Affairs from 2007 to 2012, and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2014.
Finally, in 2014 he assumed the office of First Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Through the years, he was an important figure involved in difficult issues, such as the rule of law dispute with Poland and the migration crisis. Indeed, he was in charge on the controversial refugee agreement between EU and Turkey in 2016. On December 2018, he was appointed as PES’ Lead Candidate for the European Commission.
Junker’s right hand is known as an intelligent politician, a competent civil-servant, and a skilled orator. However, some argue that the enthusiasm around the “rising star” of the Commission (frequently claimed as “Timmermania”) born after his appointment as First Vice-President has vanished. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that he was assigned to some of the most difficult issues facing the Commission. As Timmermans said in an interview: “I don’t always get the easiest jobs, let me put it that way.”