A prominent figure in Fribourg politics, Joseph Deiss represented the canton of Friboug on the Federal Council from 1999 to 2006, first as head of the Foreign Affairs Department, then as head of the Department of the Economy.
Born in Fribourg in 1946, Joseph Deiss studied at the Collège St Michel, then at Fribourg University where, in 1971, he passed a PhD in Economical and Social Sciences. After a time at Cambridge University, where he devoted himself to research, he became, successively, a lecturer at Fribourg University, a full professor, then Dean of the Faculty of Economica and Social Sciences.
His has pursued his political career in the Christian Democrat party. He had a seat on Fribourg's Grand Council from 1981 to 1991. From 1982 to 1996, he was also mayor of his commune Barberêche. From 1991-1999, he sat on the National Council, before being elected, in 1999, to the Federal Council at the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. From 2004 until his "surprise" resignation in 2006, he was once again in charge of the Federal Department of the Economy.