Catherine Lalumière was born on 3 August 1935 in Rennes, France. She has a PhD in Law and is a university lecturer.
From 1989 to 1994, she was Secretary General of the Council of Europe. In that capacity, as communism collapsed and following the fall of the Berlin Wall, she concentrated on establishing and maintaining contacts in all circumstances with countries which were in the process of democratising so that they could join Europe’s oldest and broadest based organisation as soon as possible.
But Catherine Lalumière’s European credentials are not limited to her time as head of the Council of Europe. With the wealth of her experience she became President of the European Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe in 2008 but she is also President of the Maison de l’Europe de Paris and of the French Federation of the Maisons de l’Europe. She has also been a Vice-President of the European Movement International.
In addition to these civil society activities, Catherine Lalumière has also devoted much of her political life to Europe. In 1981 she was elected to the National Assembly as the member for the Gironde and was re-elected in 1986 and 1988. She was Vice-Chair of the National Assembly’s Delegation for the European Communities from June 1988 till July 1989. At that time, she was also a member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly which gave her the opportunity to follow the first stirrings of democracy in Eastern Europe before 1989. Later, from 1994 to 2004 she was an elected Member of the European Parliament becoming President of the European radical Alliance group (1994-1999), and then a member of the European Socialist Group Bureau (1999-2004). From 2001 to 2004, she was a Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Catherine Lalumière also served in Pierre Mauroy’s and Laurent Fabius’ Governments. She was in turn Secretary of State for the Civil Service and Administrative Reforms (1981), Minister, then Secretary of State in charge of Consumption (from 1981 to 1984), and finally Secretary of State for European Affairs (from 1984 to 1986). She is Vice-President of the Parti Radical de Gauche. She has also served in local government as a Regional Councillor of Ile-de-France (1998-2004).
Today, Catherine Lalumière may no longer hold any political office but she did not hesitate to accept the Presidency of the Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe. “Europe is fragmented. It is a mosaic of different ethnic groups, cultures, and languages. This can lead to misunderstandings and tensions which can turn into wars. The only way to get out of this spiral is by learning to get to know one another. As we get to know each other better, we understand one another better. This needs contacts and facilitating contacts is the role of our Association. Perhaps that is the magic potion!”