She took over the chair of her party in 1999, and later served as education minister in the Walloon government, and holding the posts of vice-premier and equal opportunities minister in the federal governments of Yves Leterme and Herman Van Rompuy.
In 2017 she was commissioned by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, to deliver a report on the rights of victims (PDF, EN). The report, released in March this year, was well-received. As a result, she told the RTBF, Juncker offered her a job as a coordinator within his services of victims’ rights across the EU.
“He asked me to put into action the proposals [contained in the report], firstly a round of short-term measures, to allow him to launch the first phase of the strategy,” she said. “And also to prepare a second phase for the next commission. Because there will still be a number of medium-term and longer-term measures, so getting involved in the process has a longer-term outlook.”
The effort required, she said, would be too much to take on in addition to a general election campaign. “When you work on a campaign you have to give it 200%,” she said. “If you’re asked to work more than full time on an urgent matter like a large part of new reforms which have to be carried out in the next few months, that demands all of your time, never mind an election campaign. I didn’t want to cheat the voters. I wanted to be clear.”
Her place at the head of the Brussels list for her party will be taken over, at her request, by Georges Dallemagne, formerly a doctor with Doctors Without Borders, later a local councillor in Brussels, later a member of the federal parliament.