Sir Graham Watson


Sir Graham Watson was born in March 1956 in Rothesay, Scotland, the son of a Royal Naval Officer and a teacher. He was educated at the City of Bath Boys’ School and at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, from which he gained an honours degree in Modern Languages.

Sir Watson worked as an interpreter in Berlin and Brussels, as an administrator at Paisley College, as Head of the Private Office to UK Liberal Leader David Steel, and as a banker with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation before his election to the European Parliament in 1994. He developed and has maintained a lifelong passion for environmental sustainability, particularly in the field of energy. He is a co-founder of The Climate Parliament, a global network of legislators campaigning for a rapid switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy; he was President of The Climate Parliament from 1996-2001 and from 2009-16.

During his twenty years as a Member of the European Parliament (1994-2014), Sir Watson served as Chairman of the Parliament’s Committee on Citizens Rights and Freedoms, Justice and Home Affairs from 1999 to 2002, and as Leader of the Liberal (ELDR, later ALDE) Group, 2002-09. Under his leadership, it became the largest third party ever in the European Parliament.

In 2010, his tenth book, Building A Liberal Europe, was published by John Harper Publishing, and in 2011, he was knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours list. From 2011-15, Sir Watson was President of the European Liberal Democrat (ALDE) Party. Sir Watson still plays an active role in politics at the national and international levels. He is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs from 2020-22.

He and his Italian Liberal wife, Dr. Rita Giannini, live in Edinburgh and in Brussels. They have two children, Frederica (b.1992) and Gregory (b.1995).