Tributes to Jacques Delors after he dies aged 98

The former President of the European Commission made a lasting impact

Mr Delors, former President of the European Commission, died on December 27
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Jacques Delors, the former President of the European Commission and French Minister of Finance has died aged 98. We look at some of the tributes pouring in from his political heirs and former rivals.

His death was announced on Wednesday (December 27) by his daughter, the former leader of the Socialist Party and current Mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry.

Mr Delors worked through the ranks of the Socialist party during the 1970s and joined the European Parliament in 1979, becoming chairman of its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and working as Minister of Finance under the Socialist government of President Mitterrand from 1981 to 1984.

However, it was as President of the European Commission between 1985 and 1995 that he made his mark, working for the EU’s ‘ever closer union’ and in the process gaining notoriety in the UK as a rival to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Delors became a target for The Sun Pic: The Sun

The political successors of rivals nonetheless took to X (formerly Twitter) to pay homage to Mr Delors:

  • Nigel Farage: “Jacques Delors was a highly intelligent man determined to end the nation state as we know it. I often thought it was a shame that we never got the chance to do battle on the floor of the European Parliament.”
  • Boris Johnson: “Jacques Delors was the pre eminent architect of the modern European Union - and whether you agreed or not with his vision he was a towering political figure… But no one can doubt his legacy today. Whatever you say about the modern EU - it is the house that Jacques built”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme Mrs Thatcher’s former cabinet member Kenneth Clarke, now Lord Clarke of Nottingham, said Mr Delors was a "very polite, calm, highly intelligent man, a problem-solver" rather than the "fanatical federalist" that he was perceived to be.

Tributes from the EU have touched on Mr Delors’ legacy in the construction of European institutions:

  • The EuropeanCommission: “Jacques Delors was a visionary who made Europe stronger. His work had a profound impact on the lives of generations of Europeans, including my own. We are deeply grateful to him.”
  • Current President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen: "Mr Delors was a visionary who made our Europe stronger… his work shaped entire generations of Europeans."
  • European Council President Charles Michel: “Mr Delors entered history as one of the builders of our Europe… he was a great Frenchman and great European".

Mr Delors also loomed large over the Socialist party in France, and tributes have been pouring in from leaders past and present:

  • Former President François Hollande: "Jacques Delors was not a politician like any other. He was more of an intellectual who reimagined what life could be like in a harmonious society. He looked for a path to social democracy rather than for positions and power”
  • The Socialist Party: “He was a man of belief rather than of ambition. He renounced his candidacy to become President in 1995 despite favourable polls, and doing so paved the way for a new generation of socialists… We have lost a comrade, France has lost one of its great stewards and Europe one of its founders”

President Macron paid homage to Mr Delors on X (formerly Twitter):

“A statesman and man of French destiny.

A tireless craftsman of our Europe.

A fighter for human justice.

Jacques Delors was all of that”.

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