Sutherland, Peter

25 April 1946 (Dublin [Ireland])
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Sutherland, Peter Denis

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Historical Notes

Peter Sutherland began his formal education at Gonzaga College in Dublin. He later commenced his legal studies at University College Dublin. After graduating from UCD he studied at the King’s Inn in Dublin and was called to the Bar in 1969. He stood as a Fine Gael candidate in the Irish General Election of 1973 in the Dublin North-West Constituency, however he was not elected. In 1981 he was appointed as the youngest Attorney General in the history of the Irish Republic, he was also a member of the Council of State until the end of 1984 when he was nominated by the Irish Government to the post of Commissioner in the European Commission where he took up office in 1985 with responsibility for the Competition portfolio. Additionally for the first 12 months he had responsibility for Social Affairs, Education and Training (pending the accession of Spain to the EC). For the remainder of his term he was put in charge of Relations with the European Parliament alongside the primary task of Competition. During the period 1989 to 1993, Sutherland honed his business skills - he was Chairman of Allied Irish Banks and was a member of the Boards of a number of other companies including British Petroleum. He was appointed Director-General of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in July 1993 and subsequently held the same role in the World Trade Organization from 1 January 1995. In 1989, the former Commissioner was a Heffernan Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His recent academic posts include Visiting Professor at UCD, his Alma Mater and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels. Sutherland has received a variety of honorary doctorates in law from internationally renowned academic institutions and universities. In July 1992 he was invited by the European Commission to chair an Advisory Committee to report to the European Council in December 1992 on the Commission’s objectives regarding the implementation of the Internal Market for 1993. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Institute of Public Administration (1991-1996) and is Honorary President of the European Movement Ireland. Since 2012, he has also been the Honorary President of the Brussels-based think tank, the European Policy Centre. At present Sutherland is a non-Executive Chairman of Goldman Sachs International. He has been conferred with the Grand Cross of Civil Merit by Spain and the Grand Cross of Leopold II by Belgium and is a Chevalier de La Légion d'Honneur (France). He was the first Commissioner of the European Communities to receive the Gold medal of the European Parliament and in 1988 he was awarded the First European Law Prize (Paris). In 2013, University College Dublin Law School was renamed the Sutherland School of Law in his honour.

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