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Jacques Delors — In memory of an EU pioneer

On Wednesday, 27 December, the former president of the European Commission passed away at the age of 98. 

European leaders, including the current president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, mourned the loss of the visionary leader by paying their respects to the late Mr. Delors, commemorating his lifetime achievements of European integration. 

"We are all the heirs of Jacques Delors's work of life: a vibrant and prosperous European Union." wrote von der Leyen in an official Commission statement.  


Jacques Delors, the eighth president of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, has made his name along with the founding father of the EU, Jean Monnet, as "the architect of the structure and character of today's Union." His mandate as the president of the EC was considered to be successful as several landmark European integration milestones were achieved during his presidency. Milestones such as the EU single market and the Single European Act (SEA), which gave the European Parliament "its first real taste of legislative power", and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). 


Born in Paris in 1925, Jacques Delors, fathered by a man of socialist principle and a pacifist, had always "preferred social and political reform to any revolutionary aspirations." Despite a bumpy road of education due to the second World War, he worked his way up as a banker.

Later in his life, Delors was an active political figure. He jumped between political unions according to his life aspirations and interests until he became part of the central government agency of economic planning. In 1974, he officially became a party member of the French Socialist Party (PS). Delors's career in the EU began in 1979 when he was elected as a member of the European Parliament in the first EU parliamentary election. Being an MP allowed him to gain perspective on the importance of the EP. 

His following position as the French Minister of Finance, as well as his adoption of the German economic model, therefore could explain the ideas behind the institutional reforms during his mandate as the president of the European Commission. 


Delors's presidency was a challenging one as Europe was facing a hostile environment, including the aftermath of the Cold War, German reunification, and the Yugoslav War. Not to mention that the EU regulations at the time were still premature. Despite the difficulties, Delors successfully initiated a decade of institutional reform and horizontal expansion, from which the EU agenda has shifted from purely economic integration to the inclusion of political integration, encompassing policy sectors that are not strictly connected to the single market. 


The 1992 Maastricht Treaty introduced the 'three-pillar system' and the 'co-decision procedure between the European Parliament and the Council of EU, ' which would later evolve into the triangular decision-making procedure along with the Commission. 



Delors passing was a sorrowful one. Nevertheless, his legacy will continue to thrive within the EU.


Edited By: Josh Reidelbach

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Tags: #EU #Integration #European Commission #Jacques Delors


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