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Jacques Delors: “The Father of Europe”

When one talks about Europe, the name of Jacques Delors is always omnipresent. He is famous for being the man who first pushed the development of Europe through the market and afterwards fought to make Europe an advanced social organization. After obtaining his degree in Law and Economics in Paris, he started his successful career at the Bank of France and joined the Socialist party in 1979: his interest in politics was already strong.

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The president of the European commission Jacques Delors, in Brussels, Belgium, on June 10, 1993. (Photo by Jean-Michel TURPIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The president of the European commission Jacques Delors, in Brussels, Belgium, on June 10, 1993. (Photo by Jean-Michel TURPIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
A Tribute to an Europhile

“The Father of Europe” died on the 27th December 2023 at the age of 98 years old. His dedication to Europe and his work as a French politician were celebrated during a national tribute on the last 5th of January 2024 led by the  French president Emmanuel Macron who delivered a speech in front of several French politicians and Heads of states. This tribute, which gathered both national and international representatives in Paris, demonstrated how much Jacques Delors’ actions did make an impact in Europe and were recognized at the international level. 

 Credits: Yagmur, CS Actu

National, European and international politicians at the tribute to Jacques Delors in Paris on the 5th January 2024. Credits: Yagmur, CS Actu

Credits: Yagmur, CS Actu
The Ode of joy, the European Union anthem, followed by a minute of silence during the national tribute to Jacques Delors.

Credits: Yagmur, CS Actu
A final tribute to Jacques Delors with jazz music.

His first steps on the political scene in France

Jacques Delors occupied several jobs related to social affairs before entering the big political scene in 1969 when he joined the government of Jacques Chaban-Delmas as a consultant in social affairs from 1981 to 1984.

His interest for syndicalism and socialism started with the “Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens” when he was still a student, and thrived in 1974 when he officially joined the Socialist Party. 

He was also a professor at the University Paris Dauphine from 1974 to 1979 and played a major role in the creation of a research center called “Travail et Santé”. Jacques Delors manifested a real interest in teaching and encouraged research around socialism and Europe, which seem to be its main interests through his life. 

The Delors’ decade”, or the revival of the European construction (1985-1994)

Jacques Delors made his debut at the European Parliament in 1979 as a deputy, which marks the starting point of his European career. He led the economic and monetary commission for nearly two years. 

He made a significant change in Europe during his three mandates as the head of the European Commission: he supervised the development of the construction of Europe for ten years. The period between the 1980s and the 1990s revolves around the “Livre Blanc”, written in 1985 which plans to achieve the single market in Europe and has the goal to establish an Economic and Monetary Union before 1992.

Jacques Delors did play a crucial role in pushing this project to its end in 1986 with the signing of the Single Acte by twelve Member States. The Single Act enhanced Europe’s competences in terms of social, economic, environment and social dialogue cohesion. 

He also mastered the application of the Maastricht Treaty, signed by the twelve Member States in 1992, creating the European Union with its increased competences in justice, external and economic policies. It is still considered as one of the biggest steps forward in European construction. 

During his decade as the head of the European commission, the European Union went from the initial six Member States to twenty-one Member States. Jacques Delors did indeed participate in Europe’s enlargement. 

The Jacques Delors’ Institute and its heritage in society 

Jacques Delors leaves a huge legacy behind him, in the development of Europe and the creation of several institutes and research centers dedicated to social affairs. In October 1996 he created the Jacques Delors’ Institute, also called “Notre europe” or “Thinking Europe” which is dedicated to European innovation. 

He chose to focus his efforts and his career to his European commitment instead of presenting himself for the next French presidential election in 1994 as Emmanuel Macron underlined in his speech on the last 5th of January. Jacques Delors is remembered as the man who relaunched the development of Europe. He remains one of the most important characters of European history as he pushed his vision of an economically and socially independent Europe to reality. To witness his long-lasting commitment to make Europe bigger and stronger, he received several prizes like the prize Jean Monnet and the prize Charlemagne. Jacques Delors leaves a profound social mark on Europe due to his numerous actions during his time as the head of the European Commission, and most of all thanks to his strong belief in Europe’s great future

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