Pat Cox has been a Member of the European Parliament since 1989, representing the constituency of Munster in the Republic of Ireland. Before entering politics he worked both as an economics lecturer and as a journalist and television presenter on Irish television. Both of these careers have been of benefit to him in his political work.
He was first elected President of the European Liberal Democrat Group in 1998 and then was unanimously re-elected as Group President in June 1999 following the elections to the European Parliament. The European Liberal Democrats are the third largest political grouping in the European Parliament and they bring together MEPs from 19 Liberal Democrat parties.
Pat Cox's interest in politics developed during his years as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, from which he graduated in 1974. He went on to become an economics lecturer at the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin and the University of Limerick (formerly NIHE, Limerick). During this time he developed a strong interest in European affairs and an intellectual curiosity and conviction about the European integration process. He contributed to the development of the first ever under-graduate programme for European studies at an Irish University.
Between 1982 and 1986 Cox worked as a television current affairs reporter, presenter and investigative journalist on the television programme "Today Tonight". He reported on Irish and international political and economic stories including US Presidential elections, United Kingdom and French general elections and, as an economist/broadcaster, contributed to the interpretation of international and Irish economic stories.
Following the formation of the Progressive Democrats, a new Liberal Party, in late 1985 Pat Cox was appointed as their founding General Secretary. This was first his experience of national politics from a party political point of view. Having been elected to the European Parliament as a Progressive Democrat MEP in 1989, he played a key role in negotiating a programme for government which led to that Party's first ever participation in a national coalition government in the summer of 1989. In November 1992 he was elected as a Member of the Irish Parliament (Dail Eireann), for the constituency of Cork South Central and during this time he was the party's Finance spokesperson.
In 1994 he was successfully re-elected to the European Parliament, this time as an Independent Member, and was nominated to be the Deputy Leader of the European Liberal Democrats, a position in which he became a key individual in the development of the Group political strategy and policy, culminating in his nomination to the Programme Committee which drew up the 1999 election manifesto for Liberal Democrats throughout Europe. This programme was subsequently adopted at the European Liberal Democrat Party Congress in April 1999 in Berlin. In 1998 when a vacancy presented for the Presidency of the ELDR Group, he was unanimously elected to that position.
On behalf of the European Liberal Democrats Pat Cox exercised a key role in insisting on executive accountability of the European Commission before the European Parliament. This led in March 1999 to the unprecedented resignation of the European Commission. After the 1999 European Parliamentary elections he was re-elected to the post of President of the ELDR Group. Pat Cox was elected President of the European Parliament on 15 January 2002. Pat Cox is married with six children and divides his time between family in Cork, his constituency of Munster, Brussels and Strasbourg, the seats of the European Parliament, and the wider European stage.