Jacques Delors, former European Commission President, dies at 98

Luis Miguel Pascual

Paris, Dec 27 (EFE) – Former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors (1985-1994) died on Wednesday at the age of 98, his daughter, former socialist minister and current mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, told French media.

Delors spent half his life working to make the European dream a reality, armed with his tireless pragmatism.

For a decade, he promoted the construction of the Community based on three pillars: “competition that stimulates, cooperation that strengthens and solidarity that unites”.

He presided over the European Commission between the mid-1980s and the 1990s, and was for many the last great European and last to embody the ideal of integration in the face of national ambitions.

Since his departure from the executive of the European Commission in 1995, no one has better represented the countervailing power of Brussels to the interests of the heads of state.

Delors, with his irrepressible faith in Europe, led the continent into the greatest acceleration of integration it had ever known.

But this politician with a Catholic background and a socialist creed, allergic to the public spotlight and flattering applause, never fired a big salvo in favor of Europe, preferring actions to words.

When he took over the reins in Brussels, he declared: “The President of the Commission is at the service of governments, not at the service of an abstract European ideal.”

Delors was convinced that a single market would make Europe an unparalleled economic pole that would allow the social model he believed in to be preserved.

Competition as a stimulus was not accompanied by cooperation and solidarity, and he denounced it: “No one falls in love with a market alone”.

His European passion led him to renounce a national destiny that he put on hold for years before leaving it to his daughter, the former minister Martine Aubry, faithful heir to his pragmatic socialism.

Born in Paris on July 20, 1925, Delors followed in the footsteps of his father, an accountant at the Banque de France, and after completing his studies joined the institution shortly after the Second World War.

Politically affiliated with a Christian union, he began working in economic planning for the Gaullist governments in 1962, until he was recruited by the then Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas in 1969.

Considered the social current of this executive, promoter of progressive contracts and continuous training, Delors did not lose his independence from him because, in his own words, he was “too socialist for the right and too pragmatic for the left”.

In 1974, he joined the Socialist Party, attracted more by the personality of François Mitterrand than by his ideas, as he admitted in his memoirs.

Appointed Minister of Economy (1981-1984) of Mitterand’s government, he promoted nationalizations, the devaluation of the franc and an investment policy, before being forced to adopt a budgetary austerity to preserve the parity between the franc and the German mark.

A candidate for the presidency of the executive, he was excluded by the young Laurent Fabius. Hiowever, his fate had already been sealed between Mitterrand and the German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, and he departed for Brussels.

Landing in Brussels

Successor to the Luxembourger Gaston Thorn at the head of the Community executive, his arrival marked the acceleration of an ossified Europe.

Related Articles

Back to top button