Page 23 - FINAT Yearbook 2019
P. 23

                 In those early days, only a few years after the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community, European politics was a part-time job, and was mainly accomplished from the home base of the appointed officials -- in Mr. Blaisse’s case, The Hague -- where my dad also settled after he got the job with Mr. Blaisse (and was later joined by my mother after they got married).
In his first job after graduating from university, Mans Le Jeune (until the end my dad persisted in writing our last name as two words) served as the first point of contact for lobbyists and other stakeholder representatives who were trying to reach out to Mr. Blaisse for appointments on such topics as cross- border trade matters, special interests, and exemptions. The consistent message he delivered to visitors on behalf of his boss was: “You have to organize yourselves”. Mr. Blaisse did not like the prospect of talking to each company individually, as this could lead to a fragmented array of special arrangements, as well as protectionist claims that would go against the free trade principle of comparative advantage.
Like his boss, my dad was a strong believer in European collaboration. After he passed away in 2011, an obituary in a Dutch national newspaper characterized my father as a ‘pioneer against national egoism’. This altruistic, collectivity- focused mindset determined not only my dad’s career but became a central part of the DNA of the company that he set up in 1964, under the name Bureau Le Jeune, with the tagline ‘Bureau for Business Collaboration’, to help businesses to answer Prof. Blaisse’s command to organize themselves.
One of the company’s first clients was an association engaged in laminated packaging, which brought together the interests of paper, filmic and metallic material manufacturers. At the intersection of these different material types, a growing portfolio of national and European associations developed; and in 1969 a young but growing association called ‘FINAT’ decided to hire Bureau Le Jeune to manage its daily affairs. Founded in 1958 in Paris, and after ten years of a rotating FINAT office, Mans Le Jeune was appointed as the permanent Secretary-General of the association.
In 2008, when FINAT celebrated its 50th birthday, the association’s late founding President André Strauss from France was quoted in the anniversary book ‘United in Labels’, summarizing the origin of the partnership. Mr. Strauss had run the organization since 1958 and was ready to step back. He found a designated successor in Ben Kühne from NSD in The Netherlands, who would take over after the FINAT congress from 20-23 April 1970, at the Kurhaus Hotel in The Hague’s beach resort Scheveningen. Ben recommended Mans Le Jeune, and although the association had no money to hire a professional, Mans took office mid-1969 to organize the congress, and a permanent service contract was concluded as of 1970, when the association first started charging member fees.
From a small, emerging industry organization with approximately 30 licensees, FINAT grew into a mature association with almost 400 members spanning (western) Europe and other continents during the mid 1990s, when I first
  Mans Lejeune shortly after his appointment as Secretary-General, flanked by FINAT’s founding President André Strauss, at the FINAT Congress 1971 in Naples, Italy

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