László Kovács (politician)

This article is about the politician. For the cinematographer, see László Kovács (cinematographer).
The native form of this personal name is Kovács László. This article uses the Western name order.
László Kovács
European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union
In office
22 November 2004  9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Frits Bolkestein (Internal Market, Taxation and Customs Union)
Succeeded by Algirdas Šemeta (Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary
In office
27 May 2002  1 November 2004
Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy
Ferenc Gyurcsány
Preceded by János Martonyi
Succeeded by Ferenc Somogyi
In office
15 July 1994  8 July 1998
Prime Minister Gyula Horn
Preceded by Géza Jeszenszky
Succeeded by János Martonyi
Personal details
Born (1939-07-03) 3 July 1939
Budapest, Hungary
Political party MSZMP (1963–1989)
MSZP (1989– )
Spouse(s) Mária Éva Tóth
Children Dóra

László Kovács (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːsloː ˈkovaːt͡ʃ]; born 3 July 1939)[1] is a Hungarian politician and diplomat, former European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union. He was the foreign minister of Hungary twice, from 1994 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2004. He also served as chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) from 1998 to 2004.


László Kovács was born in Budapest on 3 July 1939. He finished at Petrik Lajos Technical School of Industrial Chemistry in 1957. From 1957 to 1966 he worked as a chemical technician. He graduated from the Foreign Trade Department of the Karl Marx University of Economics in 1968 and from the College of Politics of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP) in 1980.[1]

Party career

He joined the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party in 1963. From 1966 he worked for the International Department of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Young Communist League (KISZ) and was subsequently its director. He worked for the Foreign Affairs Department of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party from 1975, acting as deputy director from 1983 to 1986. He was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from May 1986 and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for May 1989 to May 1990. He was elected a member of the party's Central Committee (KB) in April 1989.[1]

Kovács was a founder of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) in October 1989, becoming a member of the presidium of the National Board in May 1990. He was party spokesman on foreign affairs from November 1990. He became party chairman on 5 September 1998, replacing Gyula Horn. He was confirmed in this office on 29 March 2003, however he resigned in 2004, when he was appointed European Commissioner.[1]

Political positions

He was a Member of Parliament since 1990 (having been elected from the party's National List in 1990, from the Győr-Moson-Sopron County Regional List in 1994 and 1998 and from the Budapest Regional List in 2002).[2] From 1990 to 1994 he was a member of the Hungarian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, becoming deputy leader of the delegation after the change of government following the 1998 parliamentary election. From 1998 until the 2002 parliamentary election he was deputy leader of the delegations to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the Western European Union Assembly. He was a member of the Committee of Wise Persons of the Council of Europe.[1]

Kovács served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of Gyula Horn from 15 July 1994 to 8 July 1998. From June 1998 to December 2000 he was the leader of the Socialists' parliamentary group and deputy leader from January 2001. He secured a seat on the Budapest Regional List in April 2002. Since 27 May 2002 he had once again been in charge of Hungarian diplomacy as foreign minister until 30 September 2004.[2]

EU career

László Kovács in September 2015

His name linked to the 31 March 1998 opening of negotiations on accession to the European Union, as well as to the completion of these negotiations on 13 December 2002. At the beginning of November 2003 the twenty-five members of the Presidential Committee of Socialist International elected him deputy chairman representing the entire Central and East European Region. During the European Parliament elections on 13 June 2004 he headed his party's list.[1]

In 2004, Kovács was nominated to serve as the Hungarian member of the European Commission, which was to take office on 1 November 2004.[3] His apparent unsuitability for his proposed role as Energy Commissioner was one of the reasons why the European Parliament refused to endorse the proposed new Commission. However, the Hungarian government did not nominate a new commissioner in his place, therefore in the revised setup of the Commission, serving from 22 November 2004, he was finally appointed as Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union.[4]

László Andor became the next Hungarian European Commissioner in the second Barroso Commission. Kovács returned to Hungary and was elected to the National Assembly of Hungary from the party's National List during the 2010 parliamentary election.[2]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Biography" (PDF). Országgyűlés.
  2. 1 2 3 "Register". Országgyűlés.
  3. András Pethő (2009-10-06). "Csúsztatva védi magát Kovács László" (in Hungarian). Origo.hu. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  4. "A commission report-card". The Economist. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
Political offices
Preceded by
Géza Jeszenszky
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
János Martonyi
Preceded by
Gyula Horn
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Zoltán Pokorni
Preceded by
János Martonyi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ferenc Somogyi
Preceded by
Péter Balázs
Hungarian European Commissioner
Succeeded by
László Andor
Preceded by
Frits Bolkestein
as European Commissioner for Internal Market, Taxation and Customs Union
European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union
Succeeded by
Algirdas Šemeta
as European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
National Assembly of Hungary
Preceded by
Imre Szekeres
Leader of the MSZP parliamentary group
Succeeded by
Sándor Nagy
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gyula Horn
Chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party
Succeeded by
István Hiller
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Antonio Martino
Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE
Succeeded by
Flavio Cotti
Succeeded by
István Hiller
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