Jacques DELORS

« Pardon and Promises »1

Jacques Delors le 9 décembre 1992. — HALEY  (source 20minutes Politique)

Jacques Delors, the “builder and architect” of the united Europe, passed away on 27 December. He leaves behind a colossal political legacy and an indelible mark on the history of the European Union that will continue to shine beyond our borders!

On the occasion of the minute’s silence proposed by our President today, we too would like to pay him tribute.

A French politician, Jacques Delors humbly defined himself as an activist. Above all, he was a man of conviction. Involved in associations and trade unions with the CFDT, Jacques Delors drew on this human wealth to relaunch European integration when it was at its lowest ebb.

Appointed President of the European Commission in 1985, he was faced with many challenges. He naturally took up the reins of the institution, demonstrating a bold political vision and an unwavering commitment to European integration.

Colleagues who worked with him have fond memories of his humanism and integrity: “It was good to work for and with Jacques Delors, we had a clear vision of the path Europe was taking, we were proud to contribute to the European project!”

As President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, Delors played a key role in building Europe as we know it today. He was in favour of a social Europe.

One of his most notable achievements was the creation of the European single market. He launched the project in 1985 and worked with the Member States to eliminate trade barriers and harmonise regulations. 

Thanks to his efforts, the single market became a reality in 1993, allowing the free movement of goods, services, capital and people within the European Union. Delors also played a key role in the creation of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). He promoted the idea of a single European currency and laid the foundations for EMU, which led to the creation of the euro in 1999. His leadership and determination were essential in overcoming political and economic obstacles to achieve this major step forward in European integration. 

Jacques Delors was also a fervent advocate of social and environmental policy within the European Union. He launched the Environmental Action Programme in 1987, laying the foundations for the European Union’s environmental policy. He also promoted policies to improve working conditions and protect workers’ rights. 

As soon as he took office, Jacques Delors laid the foundations for what was soon to become one of the European Union’s most lauded initiatives: Erasmus. Since its creation in 1987, 13.7 million people have benefited from this programme, including students, secondary school pupils, apprentices, teachers and trainers, young graduates, jobseekers, volunteers and professionals from the voluntary and sporting sectors.

In addition to his political achievements, Jacques Delors also left an indelible mark as an advocate of European values and international cooperation. He worked to strengthen the European Union’s relations with other countries and international organisations, and played a key role in the creation of the G7 and G20. 

His visionary leadership, commitment to European integration and remarkable achievements have helped shape Europe as we know it today. 

On 26 June 2015, the European Council rightly named Jacques Delors “Honorary Citizen of Europe” after Jean Monnet in 1976 and Helmut Kohl in 1998.

Our responsibility is never to forget his commitments, and to ensure that they continue to inspire us in our daily work, and inspire future generations too.

His visionary spirit and fierce determination to build a strong European Union based on solidarity, never bowing its head to the enemies of the European project, remain as relevant today as ever.

The heartfelt thoughts of the R&D family are with his family at this sad moment.

Cristiano Sebastiani,



1 A quotation from Hannah Arendt that Jacques Delors was fond of recalling