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Business News/ News / World/  Former EU Commission President Jacques Delors dies at 98

Former EU Commission President Jacques Delors dies at 98

Jacques Delors, former head of the EU Commission and key figure in the creation of the euro currency, has died at the age of 98.

Former European Commission President Jacques Delors dies at 98. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (AP)Premium
Former European Commission President Jacques Delors dies at 98. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (AP)

Former European Commission President Jacques Delors, who was a key figure in the creation of the euro currency died at the age of 98, his daughter Martine Aubry told AFP on December 28.

At the age of 98, Delors peacefully passed away in his sleep at his Paris residence on Wednesday, as reported by AFP. A prominent figure in French politics, Delors, a Socialist, held the position of finance minister under President Francois Mitterrand from 1981 to 1984.

Despite leading in the polls, he chose not to pursue the presidency in 1995, attributing his decision to an "overwhelming desire for independence." 

Jacques Delors' contributions

From 1985 to 1995, he served as the head of the European Commission, overseeing a transformative decade marked by significant strides in the bloc's integration. This period witnessed milestones such as the establishment of the common market, the implementation of the Schengen accords for travel, the initiation of the Erasmus programme for student exchanges, and the introduction of the euro as the bloc's single currency.

His push for enhanced integration faced opposition in certain member nations, notably in Britain during the tenure of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

After departing from office, Delors established think tanks dedicated to advancing European federalism. In more recent times, he cautioned against the perils of populism in Europe, emphasizing the need for boldness in addressing the repercussions of Brexit.

How do Global Leaders remember Jacques Delors?

"Up Yours Delors" read a famous 1990 front-page headline in The Sun newspaper which voiced its concerns about a single currency and increased powers for the European Parliament.

Alastair Campbell, a former campaign director for ex-British prime minister Tony Blair, said on X, formerly Twitter, that his "favourite Delors-ism" had been: "Don't be a pessimist. Or an optimist. Be an activist."

"RIP Jacques Delors. Quite a life," Campbell said.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called Delors "a tireless creator of our Europe".

Posting on X, Macron said that "his commitment, his ideal and his rectitude will always inspire us".

Delors was "a statesman with a French destiny", Macron said.

French Socialist party chief Olivier Faure said that "a giant has left us".

Calling Delors "a child of the century" who had "experienced the worst", Faure said he had sought to "overcome tragedy by building a durable peace".

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the hard-left France Unbowed party, said Delors was "a Socialist of a generation that had an ideal".

On X, Melenchon called Delors "a man of action who always thought of the common good".

Centrist Francois Bayrou said that for him "and for an entire generation of my political family and thought, he was a reference like no other".

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said Delors was a "great Frenchman and a great European" who had "entered history as one of the builders of our Europe".

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde highlighted Delors's role for the single European market and "the path he laid out towards our single currency, the euro".

Europe, she said, "has lost a true statesman".

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said Delors had fought for European unity "like few others".

Calling Delors a visionary, Scholz said "it is our responsibility to continue his work for the benefit of Europe".

Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission president, said Delors had "shaped entire generations of Europeans, including mine".


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Published: 28 Dec 2023, 07:02 AM IST
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