Sicco Mansholt

His Excellency
Sicco Mansholt

Mansholt pictured at a PvdA congress in 1967
President of the European Commission
In office
22 March 1972  6 January 1973
Vice President Wilhelm Haferkamp
Preceded by Franco Maria Malfatti
Succeeded by François-Xavier Ortoli
European Commissioner for Agriculture
In office
1 January 1958  22 March 1972
President Walter Hallstein (1958–1967)
Jean Rey (1967–1970)
Franco Maria Malfatti (1970–1972)
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Carlo Scarascia-Mugnozza
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food Supply of the Netherlands
In office
25 June 1945  1 January 1958
Prime Minister Wim Schermerhorn (1945–1946)
Louis Beel (1946–1948)
Willem Drees (1948–1958)
Preceded by Hans Gispen
(Trade, Industry, and Agriculture)
Jim de Booy
(Shipping and Fishing)
Succeeded by Kees Staf
Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands
In office
14 January 1948  21 January 1948
Prime Minister Louis Beel
Preceded by Gerardus Huysmans
Succeeded by Jan van den Brink
Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands
In office
3 July 1956  3 October 1956
In office
15 July 1952  6 September 1952
In office
27 July 1948  10 August 1948
In office
4 June 1946  18 July 1946
Acting Mayor of Wieringermeer
In office
30 April 1945  22 May 1945
Preceded by Aris Saal
Succeeded by Gerrit Gesenius Loggers
Personal details
Born Sicco Leendert Mansholt
(1908-09-13)13 September 1908
Ulrum, Netherlands
Died 29 June 1995(1995-06-29) (aged 86)
Wapserveen, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party (from 1946)
Other political
Social Democratic Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Henny Postel (m. 1938)
Children 2 sons and 2 daughters
Occupation Politician
Civil servant

Sicco Leendert Mansholt (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈsɪkoː ˈleːndərt ˈmɑnsɦɔlt]; 13 September 1908 – 29 June 1995) was a Dutch politician, recognised as one of the founding fathers of the European Union. A member of the Labour Party (PvdA), Mansholt was a farmer who entered politics in the late 1930s. During World War II, when the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany, he was involved in the Dutch Resistance and witnessed the Dutch famine of 1944. After the war, he was offered a ministerial portfolio as Minister of Agriculture, Fishing, and Food Supply (1945–1958). He later became European Commissioner for Agriculture (1958–1972), and fourth President of the European Commission (1972–1973). He was one of the architects of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.

Early life and studies

Sicco Leendert Mansholt was born on 13 September 1908 in Ulrum, Groningen, Netherlands.[1]

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.[2] He attended the HBS-school in Groningen and after that went to Deventer, to the School of Tropical Agriculture,[1] 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.[1]

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.


Local politics

Mansholt became a member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) in 1937,[1] 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.

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.[1]

He lived his last years in on an old historic farm in the quiet village of Wapserveen in the province of Drenthe (north-east Netherlands), where he died on 29 June 1995.[1]

His daughter Lideke also died in 1995, aged 53.


National honours
Ribbon bar Honour Date & Comment
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion 18 December 1972


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 (Dutch) Dr. S.L. (Sicco) Mansholt, Parlement & Politiek. Retrieved on 10 February 2014.
  2. (Dutch) Albert F. Mellink, "Mansholt, Lambertus Helprig", Biografisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeidersbeweging in Nederland, 1986. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sicco Mansholt.
Government offices
Preceded by
Hans Gispen
(Trade, Industry, and Agriculture)
Jim de Booy
(Shipping and Fishing)
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and
Food Supply of the Netherlands

Succeeded by
Kees Staf
Preceded by
Gerardus Huysmans
Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Jan van den Brink
Political offices
Preceded by
Aris Saal
Acting Mayor of Wieringermeer
Succeeded by
Gerrit Gesenius Loggers
Preceded by
Office created
Dutch European Commissioner
With: Maan Sassen (1967–1971)
Succeeded by
Pierre Lardinois
Preceded by
Office created
European Commissioner for Agriculture
Succeeded by
Carlo Scarascia-Mugnozza
Preceded by
Franco Maria Malfatti
President of the European Commission
Succeeded by
François-Xavier Ortoli
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