Graham Watson formerly served as a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group in the European Parliament. During Sir Graham’s tenure as leader, the ALDE group grew to become the the largest third party ever in the European Parliament. He has had a long and distinguished career in European politics and is an expert in European affairs.
Sir Graham was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994 and was the first Liberal Democrat MEP to be elected in the UK. As an MEP, he represented the South West of England for 20 years.
During his political career in the European Parliament he was a member of the Committee for Economic & Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy and also served on the Budgets Committee for five years. Sir Graham also served as chairman of the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs. Towards the end of his career in the European Parliament he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, in addition to his work as a member of the European Parliament’s delegations to China and chair of its delegation to India.
Before entering the European Parliament, Sir Graham worked for the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in their London and Hong Kong offices. His career with HSBC included a secondment to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Sir Graham was elected president of the European Liberal Democrat party in November 2011. He was knighted in Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours that same year.
His publications include: “To the Power of Ten: UK Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament” (2000); “2020 Vision: Liberalisation and Globalisation” (2001); “Liberal Language” (2003); “EU’ve got mail” (2004); “Liberal Democracy and Globalisation” (2006); “Liberalism – something to shout about” (2006); “The Power of Speech” (2006); “Building a Liberal Europe; The ALDE Project” (2010); and “Letters from Europe” (2012).
Sir Graham is a qualified interpreter who speaks four European languages (English, French, Italian and German).