Hans-Gert Pöttering (born 15 September 1945) is a German conservative politician (CDU, European People's Party), and was the President of the European Parliament from January 2007 to July 2009. On 4 December 2009 he was elected Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation from 1 January 2010.
He has served as a Member of the European Parliament continuously since the first elections in 1979 until 2014 and was Chairman of the European People's Party-European Democrats 1999–2007.
He is a member of the Reconciliation of European Histories Group.
Pöttering never got to know his father who was killed in action during the last days of the Second World War. After Abitur and military service, he studied law, political science and history at the University of Bonn, the University of Geneva, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and at Columbia University in New York. He took his first state exam in jurisprudence in 1973, earned a PhD in political science and history in 1974 and took his second state exam in jurisprudence in 1976.
He has been a member of the European Parliament from 1979 until 2014, the only member of the European Parliament to have served continuously since the first elections.
From 1984 to 1994 he was chairman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence. From 1994 to 1996 he chaired the working group on the Intergovernmental Conference of the European People's Party (EPP) and EPP-ED Group, the results of which became the official EPP position for the Treaty of Amsterdam.
In 1994 he became Vice-President of the EPP, and from 1999 to 2007 he was the Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament. He was the top candidate of the CDU in the 2004 and the 2009 European elections.
Together with Volker Hassemer he is a member of the advisory board of the pro-European initiative "A soul for Europe".
As part of a deal with the socialist group, it was agreed that he would succeed Josep Borrell Fontelles as President of the European Parliament in the second part of the 2004–2009 term, which he did on 16 January 2007. He was elected with 450 of 689 valid votes, and defeated Italian Green Monica Frassoni, Danish Eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde and French Communist Francis Wurtz.
As President of the European Parliament he initiated the House of European History project. He made reference to the House in his inaugural speech in 2007. For many years he is serving as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the House of European History in Brussels.
Pöttering is known as an enthusiastic European Federalist and an ally of Angela Merkel. He has stated that his priority will be to rejuvenate the European Constitution.
Pöttering has received the Robert Schuman Medal of EPP-ED, the Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Shoulder Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Grand Golden Medal of Merit of the Republic of Austria, the Mérite Européen en or of Luxembourg, the European Honorary Senator, the ‘MEP of the year 2004’, award given by the newspaper ‘European Voice’, a Doctor Honoris Causa of Babeş-Bolyai-University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania a Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Opole, Poland, the Grand Cross of the Papal Order of St Gregory the Great, Great Cross of Merit of Queen Jelena with Star and Shoulder Ribbon, Croatia, the Walter-Hallstein-Prize 2007, Frankfurt am Main, European Excellence Award 2008 of the Autonomous Community of Madrid ('Premio a la Excelencia Europea 2008'), Doctor Honoris Causa of the Warmia and Mazury University in Olsztyn, Poland,. On Tuesday 24 June 2008 he was awarded the 'Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana', the highest honour of the Republic of Italy, at a ceremony conducted by the Italian State President, Giorgio Napolitano. Further more he was awarded with the Honorary citizenship of the city of Bersenbrueck, his birthplace, with the Medal of the grand duke Jaroslaw the Wise, „Řád prince Jaroslava Moudrého“ (Nejvyšší ukrajinské vyznamenání), Ukraine, with the “Three-Star-Medal” of the Republic of Latvia, the "Ben-Gurion-Medaille" of the Ben-Gurion-University Jerusalem, with the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Korea, Seoul, the Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France, the Grand Cross of Civil Merit of the Kingdom of Spain, the Polish-German Prize, the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University Miguel de Cervantes, Santiago de Chile, the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University Bahçeşehir in Istanbul, Turkey, the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, the Order of Merit to Lithuania with Cross of Commander, the Order of Merit with Grand Cross of the Hungarian Republic, the Grand Cross of the Star of Romania, the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University Wrocław, Poland, the Doctor Honoris Causa of the University Ateneo de Manila, Philippines, the honorary citizenship of the city of Opole / Silesia (Poland), the Honorary Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires and the Grand Officer of the Republic of Tunisia.
He lives in Bad Iburg, Germany. Pöttering is Roman Catholic, divorced and has two sons.Adenauers Sicherheitspolitik 1955–1963. Ein Beitrag zum deutsch-amerikanischen Verhältnis, Droste Verlag 1975, ISBN 3-7700-0412-4
Europas Vereinigte Staaten, Editio Interfrom 2000, ISBN 3-7201-5237-5, with Ludger Kühnhardt
Weltpartner Europäische Union, Edition Interfrom 2001, ISBN 3-7201-5252-9, with Ludger Kühnhardt
Kontinent Europa. Kern, Übergänge, Grenzen, Edition Interfrom 2002, ISBN 3-7201-5276-6, zusammen mit Ludger Kühnhardt
Von der Vision zur Wirklichkeit. Auf dem Weg zur Einigung Europas, Bouvier 2004, ISBN 3-416-03053-2