Former European Commission President Jacques Delors dies aged 98

Former European Commission President Jacques Delors dies aged 98
Former European Commission president Jacques Delors. Credit: Belga

Jacques Delors, former European Commission President and architect of the euro, has died aged 98. His daughter Martine Aubry, who is mayor of Lille, told reporters her father had died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday night.

Delors led the Commission from 1985 to 1995 and played a pivotal role in shaping modern Europe. He oversaw the creation of the single market, the Schengen agreements, and the Erasmus student exchange programme. He orchestrated the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 which lay the foundations for a single currency.

Delors described himself as a social democrat and served as finance minister in François Mitterand's socialist government from 1981 to 1984. After spending 10 years in Brussels, Delors stunned the French left by refusing to run in the 1995 presidential race despite being a favourite in the polls. He later suggested that he felt regret over this decision.

Delors' political career turned toward think tanks, advocating for a reinforced European federalism. He founded 'Club témoin' in 1992 and 'Notre Europe' – later renamed 'Institut Jacques Delors' – in 1996.

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In March 2020, he urged EU leaders to act in solidarity when they were searching for a collective response to the Covid-19 pandemic and he called for more "audacity" in reacting to the fallout of Brexit.

Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen celebrated "a visionary who made our Europe stronger. His life-long work was a united European Union, dynamic and prosperous."

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

The French politician died just hours after another European powerhouse, former German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

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