Lawyer, married, father of Jacek and Janeczka. With working class background, mother comes from the Polish mountains, father was a soldier of Bataliony Chłopskie (Peasant Battalions formed a branch of the Polish partisans organized by the Peasant Party after Poland was occupied by Germany and the USSR in October 1939).

Born, brought up and educated in Krakow. In the 1970s active at the Dominican Friars' University Chaplaincy Centre Beczka, also cooperated with KOR (Workers' Defence Committee, a Polish civil society group that emerged under communist rule to give aid to prisoners and their families after the June 1976 protests and government crackdown), co-funder of SKS (Students' Solidarity Committee, a student group set up in Krakow in 1977 whose purpose was opposition to the Communist government in Poland). Active in organising the structures of NSZZ Solidarność (Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity, Polish trade union that in the early 1980s became the first independent labour union in a country belonging to the Soviet bloc), head of Małopolska region representatives to the First National Solidarity Trade Union General Meeting, deputy chairman of Małopolska region Solidarity Trade Union (1980-82). Interned under martial law. Following his release employed at Znak publishing house, co-founder of Arka, a socio-cultural magazine published underground.

In exile from 1983. In the 14 years in France he worked as journalist for the Polish Section of the RFI, the BBC, Deutschlandfunk and Radio Free Europe. An honorary member of the Association of Polish Physicians in France, he initiated and supported the activities of this organization.

In 1990 he became director of the Polish Institute in France and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Polish Embassy in Paris. As part of his responsibilities he organized, together with the mayors of Paris and other French cities, presentations of the Polish culture and art. Appointed Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for the promotion of Polish culture abroad.

He returned to Poland in 1996 to fill the position of director of Kraków 2000 - European City of Culture, the biggest cultural event in Poland which lasted five years. During this time, he obtained an additional PLN 54 million for culture: he established Krakow 2000 Festival Office, Cultural Information Centre and Municipal Information System. Awarded Merit for Polish Culture (1999) by the Minister of Culture.

Active member of the local government (he acted as the first President of the Małopolska Voivodeship Local Parliament), activist in the field of culture, national heritage conservation and development of historical consciousness. Initiator of Małopolska Region Cultural Heritage Days and campaigns: preservation of Kościuszko Mound and the "Restore Memories" campaign to commemorate the Krakow Ghetto, led to the adoption of the Strategy for Promotion of Krakow - Poland's first coherent and comprehensive plan to promote the city. Currently the chairman of Stowarzyszenie Maj 77 (May 1977 Association), responsible for the commemoration of the opposition movement (including SKS) in the Communist Polish People's Republic. In 2012, he was awarded the "Cross of Freedom and Solidarity" by Polish President Bronisław Komorowski.

He worked on the Polish-EU rapprochement, for instance by contributing to the first Polish representation to the EU in Brussels. Since 2004 Member of the European Parliament for Małopolska and Świętokrzyskie Regions, elected in 2009 for a second term in office. His work, commitment and initiative has been recognized by various institutions and the media. The list of awards includes:

  • victory in the Gazeta Krakowska daily ranking list for the most active Małopolska Region MEP (2012);
  • MEP Awards 2010 – a prestigious award for the best MEP in Brussels held by The Parliament Magazine (September 2010);
  • top places in the ranking lists of Polish MEP's (2010: the Rzeczpospolita daily, Wprost weekly, RMF FM radio station; 2009: Instytut Kościuszki report; 2008: ranking list of Polish correspondents in Brussels; 2007: Uniwersytet Wrocławski report);
  • The Super Express daily nomination for Złote Skrzydła award (2006).