Jacques Delors

French economist and politician

Jacques Lucien Jean Delors (20 July 192527 December 2023) was a French politician who served as the 8th President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995. He served as Minister of Finance of France from 1981 to 1984. He was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1981.

Delors (1988)

Quotes edit

Member of the European Parliament edit

  • Europe is a commercial giant and an economic power of the first rank, but it is a political dwarf. Political cooperation in the Community will grow. The question is whether the supply services will follow.
    • Speech to the press (3 December 1980), quoted in The Times (4 December 1980), p. 5

French Minister of Finance edit

  • I take what is good where I find it. I am for what the Anglo-Saxons call a 'policy mix' in the context of a mixed economy. ... I would simply say...without wishing to offend anyone, that you appreciate the distance which separates British Leyland from Renault. We want to have more Renaults. It is the difference between an industrial policy which succeeds and one which does not.
    • Interview with The Times (24 June 1981), p. 19

President of the European Commission edit

  • My feeling is that we will not be able to take all the decisions which will be necessary from now until 1995 unless there is the embryo of a European government in one form or another.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (6 July 1988), quoted in The Times (7 July 1988), p. 1
  • It is impossible to build Europe on only deregulation...1992 is much more than the creation of an internal market abolishing barriers to the free movement of goods services and investment...The internal market should be designed to benefit each and every citizen of the Community. It is therefore necessary to improve workers' living and working conditions, and to provide better protection for their health and safety at work...Europe needs you.
  • My objective is that before the end of the millennium Europe should have a true federation. The Commission should become a political executive which can define essential common interests...responsible before the European Parliament and before the nation-states represented how you will, by the European Council or by a second chamber of national parliaments.
    • Remarks on French television (23 January 1990), quoted in Charles Grant, Delors - Inside the House that Jacques Built (London: Nicholas Brearley, 1994), p. 135
  • The Americans should stop insulting us, I'm not going to be an accomplice to the depopulation of the land. It's not up to the Americans to tell us how to organise our farm policy and the balance of our society. Their attitude is to treat the EC as if it had the plague and then encourage the rest of the world to join in.
    • On American attitudes to the Common Agricultural Policy (7 December 1990), quoted in Charles Grant, Delors - Inside the House that Jacques Built (London: Nicholas Brearley, 1994), p. 172
  • The social and human balance of our societies depend on the farming world.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (23 January 1991), quoted in The Times (24 January 1991), p. 13
  • It is not sufficient to have a strong economy to influence events. You also have to political and military power. ... A community limited to a big market refusing to resume its responsibilities and ambitions in the world will not be peaceful, will not be able to assure its children that they will live in security. [If Europe is to have political personality it would have to have] a common foreign policy in certain domains and military co-operation that will lead, before 1995, to the creation of a multilateral rapid intervention force.
    • Interview with Europe 1 radio (10 March 1991), quoted in The Times (12 March 1991), p. 8
  • If we do not succeed with political union...then the historic decline of Europe which began with the First World War will resume.
    • Interview with Der Spiegel, quoted in The Times (14 October 1991), p. 1
  • The crux is the reform of the treaty which would lead to common action. There must be a will to defend the central interests of Europe. If there is no majority voting, then the same level of impotence will continue.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (23 October 1991), quoted in The Times (24 October 1991), p. 14
  • Federalism is a guideline, not a pornographic word, you can speak it out loud...We have been focusing too much on a country that has said no, no, no!
    • Speech in Maastricht (8 December 1991), quoted in Charles Grant, Delors - Inside the House that Jacques Built (London: Nicholas Brearley, 1994), p. 200
  • If we are really on the way towards a political entity with a common foreign policy on basic issues, then I consider that France's nuclear force should be available to serve that policy.
    • On French television (5 January 1992), quoted in The Times (6 January 1992), p. 11
  • Farmers have their dignity, just as others do. It is fine to make efforts to make them react to markets, but you cannot then tie their hands and take away their choices. That is putting them in a straitjacket. ... I have always felt that the Community should be able to say 'No' to its big brother [America].
    • On GATT, quoted in The Times (16 October 1992), p. 9
  • [I criticise those] countries that used currency devaluation as a lever to win jobs. I would refer you to one member state of the Community without name it. Those who devalue in an extreme way will find health at the expense of the rest of the Community. It's like three people shipwrecked—one person floats for the sake of the other two going under.
    • Referring to the UK in a speech to the European Parliament (4 February 1993), quoted in The Times (5 February 1993), p. 8
  • We must define the political Europe that we want. We must plead for the federal approach.
    • Speech in Lorient (29 August 1993), quoted in The Times (30 August 1993), p. 11
  • Cars are free to circulate but still there are speed limits, therefore I do not see why, at the international level, we should not study ways to limit monetary movements. Bankers cannot act at will. ... Why should we not draw up some rules of the game?
    • Speech to the European Parliament (17 September 1993), quoted in The Times (18 September 1993), p. 23
  • He thinks I am the man of the past but I am still here. He is the man of the past.
    • Remarks on British Prime Minister John Major (28 September 1993), quoted in The Times (29 September 1993), p. 1
  • Europe will have 30 million unemployed by the end of the century if the continent's competitiveness and employment patterns are not rapidly changed. ... Europe's economic performance against America and Asia was declining and that the Community was faced with a choice between further decline and survival.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (13 October 1993), quoted in The Times (14 October 1993), p. 15
  • What I see is European construction drifting towards a free-trade zone, that is to say an English-style Europe, which I reject. If we do nothing, this will lead in 15 years to a break-up. I reject a Europe that would be just a market, a free-trade zone without a soul, without a conscience, without political will, without a social dimension.
    • Interview (c. 16/17 October 1993), quoted in The Times (19 October 1993), p. 11
  • [Greek voices] must not only be heard claiming their due but also contributing to the European Union.
    • On EU aid to Greece, quoted in The Times (21 December 1993), p. 13
  • Politicians who attack the dream of a federal Europe are racist bigots intent on undermining the Continent's freedom and peace.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (4 May 1994), quoted in The Times (5 May 1994), p. 1
  • What is perceived as a cost by some will turn out to be the competitive advantage of Europe by helping maintain a well-trained, secure workforce, open to change.
    • Speech to a Trades Union Congress conference in London (31 August 1994), quoted in The Times (1 September 1994), p. 25
  • I have a passion for reform, for the progress of man and society. I cannot stand the feeling of being useless.
    • L'Unité d'un Homme (November 1994), quoted in The Times (21 November 1994), p. 11
  • According to [John Major], the issue now is to build a greater Europe around a single market and some areas of co-operation, notably in the environment. Everything else is flexible. I call that Europe à la carte. This is not my thesis. Mine is: the fathers of the Treaty of Rome wanted not just peace among us, but also that Europe should be able to continue existing in a world in which they sensed profound change in the wind, without being able to describe it. In consequence, if we want our nations to keep their universal capacity together, they must unite politically, without nostalgia for the old order.
    • L'Unité d'un Homme (November 1994), quoted in The Times (21 November 1994), p. 11
  • The spirit of the Right is dominated by scepticism towards the possibility of profound change in society and above all towards the idea that man can achieve progress over himself. On the Left, on the other hand, there exists a belief in human and social progress.
    • L'Unité d'un Homme (November 1994), quoted in The Times (21 November 1994), p. 11
  • We have preserved social security and the welfare state, but at the expense of employment. Neo-liberalism, which put the emphasis on the market, manifested itself in Europe by the policies led by Margaret Thatcher, who sometimes had good reasons to prise off the shackles which were condemning British society to decline. But [Thatcherite policies] fell into an excess of laissez faire.
    • L'Unité d'un Homme (November 1994), quoted in The Times (21 November 1994), p. 11
  • [The European Union must be a] federal union with a common currency, a tightly co-ordinated economic policy and a foreign policy capable of common diplomatic and military action. ... Britain is refusing to face reality. Does England have a future outside Europe? No. But it is difficult for a great nation to bid farewell to its golden age.
    • Interview with Der Spiegel (27 November 1994), quoted in The Times (28 November 1994), p. 12
  • Socialism had defeated her brand of ultra-liberal economics. ... [Margaret Thatcher believed that] the law of the market could be applied in the place of politics. She underestimated the dignity and grandeur of politics, which is an attempt to combine, an attempt to convince, an attempt to listen to others, to try to find a society which is not better but less bad than the one in which we live today.
    • Speech to Socialists in Essen (8 December 1994), quoted in The Times (9 December 1994), p. 1
  • [Only federalism] allows democratic control and can punish abuses of power. Only federalism can guarantee respect for national character and regional variety. ... The springtime of Europe is still before us.
    • Speech to the European Parliament (19 January 1995), quoted in The Times (20 January 1995), p. 11

Misattributed edit

Quotes about Delors edit

  • Up Yours Delors
    • Headline in The Sun, 1 Nov 1990 [1]
  • I have five questions that I ask people who have power, and I recommend them to the House. If I see someone who is powerful, be it a traffic warden, Rupert Murdoch, the head of a trade union or a Member of Parliament, I ask myself these five questions: "What power have you got? Where did you get it? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? How can we get rid of you?" That last question is crucial. We cannot get rid of Jacques Delors; we cannot get rid of the [European] Commission. We can get rid of a Government; but we cannot get rid of European legislation that a Government have entrenched during their period in office—be they a Labour Government with the Tories coming or the other way around.
  • At the very moment the eastern bloc disintegrated, the EEC mooted a major step in the opposite direction. The commission’s head, Jacques Delors, proposed in 1990 that the EEC become an executive agent of the European Parliament, with the currently sovereign Council of Ministers as merely its senate. This would drastically increase the unelected commission’s authority and diminish national sovereignty. It was constitutionally–not to mention politically–explosive. The EU was becoming a state without a nation. Britain’s Thatcher reacted in the House of Commons, ‘No, no, no!’ She later added, ‘We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.’ The Delors initiative won little support and was scrapped, but Thatcher’s days were numbered. In November 1990 she was felled by a party coup and replaced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, John Major.
    • Simon Jenkins, A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin (2018)
  • The President of the Commission, M. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No.

External links edit

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