Université catholique de Louvain.
After receiving a Doctorate of Law from the Université catholique de Louvain, Davignon joined the Belgian Foreign Ministry, in 1959, and within two years had become an attaché under Paul-Henri Spaak, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs. He remained in Belgian government until 1965. In 1970, he chaired the committee of experts which produced the Davignon report on foreign policy for Europe.
From 1989 to 2001, he was chairman of the Belgian bank Société Générale de Belgique, which is now part of the French supplier Suez and was not an arm of the French bank Société Générale, but a Belgian institution.
He is now Vice Chairman of Suez subsidiary, Suez-Tractebel. He is the current co-chairman of the European Union-Japan Business Dialogue Round Table, chairman of the Paul-Henri Spaak Foundation, president of the EGMONT – Royal Institute for International Relations, chairman of CSR Europe, chairman of the European Academy of Business in Society and was chairman of the annual Bilderberg conference from 1998 to 2001.
Davignon is the chairman of the board of directors of Brussels Airlines, which he co-founded after the bankruptcy of Sabena. On 26 January 2004, Davignon was given the honorary title of Minister of State, giving him a seat on the Crown Council.
He is also President of the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe.
Étienne"s grandfather, Julien Davignon, also served in the government of Belgium, being Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I.
Davignon later became the first head of the International Energy Agency, from 1974 to 1977, before becoming a member of the European Commission, of which he was vice-president from 1981 till 1985. As chairman of Société Générale de Belgique, he was a member of the European Round Table of Industrialists. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.
He is also a member of the board of numerous Belgian companies, and is the chairman of the board of directors and of the General Assembly of the ICHEC Brussels Management School.
Davignon is a crucial member of the Strategic Advisory Panel of The European Business Awards. He is a member of the Cercle Gaulois and a member of the Advisory Board of the Itinera Institute think tank.
Married Francoise de Cumont, 1959. Three children.