Jacques Delors: intimate portrait | EUROtoday

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En half a century of public life, his expression had hardly modified. The piercing eye below the circumflex eyelids and behind the immutable tortoiseshell glasses, the uncommon smile, he was austere, hieratic, nearly marmoreal; a kind of statue of the commander who aroused respect, together with from those that didn’t share his views. Besides, his conception of the world had not modified both. From his first steps within the banking sector to his final years as an previous European sage whose omens had been awaited, social-Christian reformism served as a typical thread within the profession of Jacques Delors, who died this Wednesday, December 27.

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It would have been fascinating to see how these robust convictions would have been expressed if his path had not directed him in the direction of the economic system, commerce unionism, politics and Europe. Because he would have simply as simply seen himself as a journalist, a filmmaker, an unconditional admirer of Italian realism or, fairly incongruously for such a starched character, a designer. It being understood that the vocation of jazzman was forbidden to this nice beginner who was by no means an instrumentalist, one of many regrets of his life.


The course will probably be much less glamorous, however constitutes a textbook case when it comes to meritocracy. Born in Paris in 1925, the grandson of a farmer from Corrèze would have fortunately pursued a college course after a childhood spent between the municipal council in Ménilmontant and the patronage of rue Saint-Maur. But the daddy who works on the Banque de France has a way of transmission and the offspring, that of filial respect: will probably be the BDF. He labored there throughout the day, took night lessons there, and climbed the ranks earlier than switching to commerce unionism as an knowledgeable on the French Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC), then shifting to the Economic and Social Council earlier than be a part of the Planning Commission. From place to place, the profile is refined. That of a rigorous economist, endowed with a powerful social fiber and whose phrases are starting to be authoritative.

READ ALSO Jacques Delors: his final confessions to “Point”It was in these numerous capacities that François Mitterrand entrusted him, in 1981, with the Ministry of Economy and Finance within the first authorities of Pierre Mauroy. Portfolio to which is added the Budget, two years later. In a crew which incorporates 4 communist ministers and whose mission is to implement electoral guarantees which are extra ideological than cheap, a character similar to his is reassuring. In truth, on the finish of the primary two years which resulted in file deficits, Mauroy and Delors managed to impose extra rigorous administration. Seduced by the file greater than by the character at odds together with his personal, Mitterrand slips his identify to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to get up a sleeping magnificence: the European Commission.

Iron self-discipline

We are in 1985. In a decade and three successive mandates, the EU will expertise below his management a lift with out equal for the reason that creation of the Common Market in 1957. As the nice politician that he has develop into, Delors is aware of that Reforms that aren’t initiated inside the first two years are unlikely to see the sunshine of day. So he goes for it, utilizing his data of the problems, his energy of conviction and his sense of compromise.

Just a few months after his appointment, the twelve member nations on the time initialed the Single Act, which can give start to the big inner market. Under his management, the Commission additionally laid the foundations of the Economic and Monetary Union, adopted the “Delors package”, which reformed the widespread agricultural coverage, and established help to deprived areas, and efficiently accomplished enlargement to the Nordic nations. Activism that can encourage Point to make him his “man of the year” in 1988.

READ ALSO Jacques Delors, the dying of an incredible EuropeanTo maintain out, the monk-soldier imposes an iron self-discipline on himself: six hours of sleep, a morning gymnastics session, the sacrosanct studying of The Team (one of many uncommon breaths he permits himself), and off we go for a clock tour of recordsdata, conferences, speeches; typically extra when he’s touring. The tempo is barely slower on weekends, which can be true for his colleagues. One of them will admit someday: “Luckily he goes to mass on Sunday, it allows him to breathe. »

Missed acts

But the one that Raymond Barre had described as a “mountain of susceptibility in a lake of sensitivity” is a type of folks whose failed actions shed extra gentle on the character than a easy biographical sketch. As the 1995 presidential election approached, the left started to buzz with rumors a couple of potential candidacy of this social democrat on the top of his reputation, a priori able to uniting properly past his political household. The polls additionally present him because the winner in opposition to Édouard Balladur, and much more clearly in opposition to Jacques Chirac.

The fantasy doesn’t survive the nice political assembly of the time, the 7 out of seven by Anne Sinclair, on TF1. Faced together with her surprised interlocutor, it’s a terse dismissal: “The absence of a coherent majority would prevent me from implementing the reforms that I believe are essential. » Collective hangover in the Socialist Party, where some suspect the proud man of having dreamed of being President of the Republic without even being a candidate. The real motivations are more complex. Delors was the advisor to Jacques Chaban-Delmas at the time of the “new society”, only joined the PS late (1974) and, with the exception of a mandate at the town hall of Clichy, never showed great interest in universal suffrage. These specificities make him suspect in the eyes of many socialists and he does not want to fight against his own camp.

“This inability I have to be in the spotlight”

More basically, Jacques Delors is his personal greatest enemy. Of course, he all the time took care to not compromise the profession of his daughter, Martine Aubry, already a minister twice and who appears to have an incredible future, however that too will not be sufficient to utterly clarify his renunciation. One day faulting his pure modesty, he confessed: “This inability I have to put myself in the spotlight. » Paradoxes of a man in whom self-awareness and authoritarian character lived in conflictual cohabitation with real humility.

READ ALSO Robert Badinter: “Our people are not particularly benevolent”And it was usually she who received. Mitterrand, who despised the second left typically (and Michel Rocard particularly), had nonetheless proposed Matignon to Delors. And twice: in 1983 and in 1992. With the consequence that we all know.

His political ambitions definitively muzzled, to the nice happiness of Jacques Chirac, he returned to maneuver Europe ahead from circles to assume tanks, positively extra centered on pedagogy than on demagoguery. A retirement in an nearly spiritual sense that he appears to have by no means regretted. Not even in his Memoirs, revealed in 2003, and wherein he solely agreed to admit his torments by hiding behind Guillaume Apollinaire:

“One day I anticipated myself (…)

in order that I lastly know who I’m (…)

and with a lyrical step these I like superior

amongst whom I used to be not. »