Jacques Delors

Jacques Lucien Jean Delors (born 20 July 1925) is a French politician who served as the 8th President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995. He served as Minister of Finance of France from 1981 to 1984. He was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1981.[1]

Jacques Delors
8th President of the European Commission
In office
7 January 1985  24 January 1995
Vice PresidentFrans Andriessen
Preceded byGaston Thorn
Succeeded byJacques Santer
Minister of Finance
In office
22 May 1981  17 July 1984
Prime MinisterPierre Mauroy
Preceded byRené Monory
Succeeded byPierre Bérégovoy
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 1979  25 May 1981
ConstituencyEast France
Personal details
Jacques Lucien Jean Delors

(1925-07-20) 20 July 1925
Paris, France
Political partySocialist Party
Spouse(s)Marie Lephaille (m. 1941)
Alma materUniversity of Paris

He is the father of Martine Aubry, the former First Secretary of the French Socialist Party.

French politics

Born in Paris in a family originating from Corrèze, Delors first held in the 1940s through the 1960s a series of posts in French banking and state planning with the Banque de France.[1] As a member of the French Confederation of Christian Workers, he participated in its secularization and the foundation of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour. In 1969, he became social affairs adviser to the Gaullist Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a move which was presented as part of Chaban's outreach to the centre-ground and first attracted media attention to Delors personally.[1]

In 1957, Delors left the CFDT when he became a high government official to avoid conflicts of interests. In 1974 Delors joined the French Socialist Party, with other left-wing Christians. He was one of the rare members of the party to be openly religious, thus challenging its long-standing secular tradition of Laïcité.[2] He served in the European Parliament from 1979 to 1981, becoming chairman of its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.[1] Under President François Mitterrand, Delors served as Economics and Finance Minister from 1981 to 1983, and Economics, Finance, and Budget Minister from 1983 to 1984.[1] He advocated a pause in the social policies, a clear acceptance of the market economy, and an alignment with European social democracy. Critically, he held the line on France's membership of the European Monetary System (EMS), giving priority to monetary stability over left-wing spending priorities. Mitterrand flirted with the idea of naming him Prime Minister, but never made the appointment.

Delors Commission

Delors became the President of the European Commission in January 1985. During his presidency, he oversaw important budgetary reforms and laid the groundwork for the introduction of a single market within the European Community, which came into effect on 1 January 1993. (see Delors Commission for details)[3][4]


Delors has a longstanding interest in education. Initiator of a French law in 1971 (la formation professionnelle continue – FPC) requiring firms to set aside part of their profits for educational opportunities for their employees, he also chaired a UNESCO Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century from 1993 to 1996 whose final report was published as Learning: the Treasure Within. This work continues to have a significant influence on discourse on lifelong learning, forming the conceptual foundation for both the Canadian Composite Learning Index as well as the European Lifelong Learning Indicators (ELLI) project.

In 1994, members of the French Socialist Party attempted to persuade Delors to run for President of France. Polls showed that he would have a very good chance of defeating either of the main conservative contenders – Prime Minister Édouard Balladur and Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac.[5] However Delors declined to run and the eventual Socialist nominee, Lionel Jospin, was defeated in the 1995 presidential election by Chirac.

In 1995, Delors won the Charles V Prize, awarded by the Fundación Academia Europea de Yuste

Delors founded the Paris-based, centre-left think tank Notre Europe in 1996 and remains one of its presidents. He is president of the Conseil de l'emploi, des revenus et de la cohésion sociale, and honorary member of both the Institut Aspen France and the Club of Rome.

On 15 September 2010 Delors supported the new initiative Spinelli Group, which was founded to reinvigorate the strive for federalisation of the European Union. Other prominent supporters include Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Guy Verhofstadt, Sylvie Goulard, Andrew Duff, and Elmar Brok.[6] In 2010, Delors was the first to be honored with the Leonardo European Corporate Learning Award.[7]

In 1990, Delors received the Freedom medal.[8]

Delors is the father of Socialist politician Martine Aubry.[1]

In 2012, Delors stated in the Handelsblatt newspaper that "If the British cannot support the trend towards more integration in Europe, we can nevertheless remain friends, but on a different basis. I could imagine a form such as a European economic area or a free-trade agreement."

On 25 June 2015, Donald Tusk announced that Delors would become the third person ever to have the title of Honorary Citizen of Europe bestowed upon them, in recognition of "his remarkable contribution to the development of the European project".[9]


Selected works

Delors, Jacques; Arnaud, Jean-Louis (2004), Mémoires, Plon, ISBN 978-2-259-19292-7

See also


  1. European Commission – Discover the former Presidents, retrieved 21 September 2009
  2. "Jacques Delors Facts". biography.yourdictionary.com. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  3. Ross, George; Jenson, Jane (23 February 2017). "Reconsidering Jacques Delors' leadership of the European Union". Journal of European Integration. 39 (2): 113–127. doi:10.1080/07036337.2016.1277718. ISSN 0703-6337.
  4. "Jacques Delors | French politician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. "Delors' Vow Not to Run Could Boost French Anti-Europe Forces", Washington Post, 13 December 1994
  6. "Spinelli group website, Members of the steering group". Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  7. "Leonardo". www.leonardo-award.eu. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  8. Four Freedoms Award#Freedom Medal
  9. "Invitation letter by President Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council - Consilium". www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  10. Index biographique des membres et associés de l'Académie royale de Belgique (1769-2005). p83
Political offices
Preceded by
René Monory
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Pierre Bérégovoy
Preceded by
François-Xavier Ortoli
Edgard Pisani
French European Commissioner
Served alongside: Claude Cheysson, Christiane Scrivener
Succeeded by
Édith Cresson
Yves-Thibault de Silguy
Preceded by
Gaston Thorn
President of the European Commission
Succeeded by
Jacques Santer
Academic offices
Preceded by
Margaret Thatcher
Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony
Succeeded by
Richard von Weizsäcker
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