After a private-sector career in a variety of fields (industry, press, human resources and the service sector), Eric Besson was elected mayor of Donzère in southern France in 1995.
He was a socialist MP from 1997 to 2007 and a member of the Socialist Party bureau in charge of economic, employment and public finance issues from 2000 to 2007.
He left the party in February 2007 and joined Nicolas Sarkozy after the first round of the presidential election. On 18 May, the President appointed him Minister of State for Forward Planning, Public Policies Evaluation and Development of the Digital Economy. In January 2009, he became Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Idendity and Solidarity-based Development. In November 2010, he was appointed Minister for Industry, Energy and Digital Economy.
In June 2007, Eric Besson founded Les Progressistes, a progressive movement linked to the majority party.
In January 2009, he became Deputy Secretary-General of the UMP party.