John Szemerey is a political journalist. He retired in summer 2005 after working over 30 years in the information services of the European Commission, Brussels. Before that he had been features writer with a Fleet Street agency and he had been Westminster columnist for two newspapers. He is now Chairman of the International Division of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, the oldest and most senior professional organisation of journalists in the world.
John, 69, was born in Hungary but escaped to England with his parents in 1949, when the Communists were tightening their grip on the country. He had most of his education in England, although he also won an exchange scholarship for a year at a top school in the USA. He studied financial and administrative management at the University of Louvain, Belgium.
When Britain joined the European Community in 1973 he immediately applied for a job with the European Commission. As a political columnist he felt he must know at first hand how the EC worked. He was successful and was one of the first Brits to work for the Commission when he started there in January 1974.
“Intending to stay at the Commission for two or three years,” says John, “I found the work so interesting and the international situation – working alongside colleagues from other European countries – so challenging and stimulating, that I stayed for over 30 years.”
John Szemerey is a widower. He has two adult children, Samantha and Mark.