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Jacques Delors

Jacques Delors

Jacques Delors was President of the Economic Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament ...
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Jacques Delors's teachings against Europe's embittered people

on December 27, 2006, 15:07
Article - Jacques Delors

A unique tone. Jacques Delors has lost none of his main quality. I refer to the stimulating effect of his words when he speaks of Europe. He may be discontented, disappointed even, with various current developments in European construction, but none of this matters: even his reservations or criticisms have this tone, which is his alone, and which gives hope and confidence. Those lucky enough to have heard him over two days in Brussels last week will bear me out: even the most sceptical and cynical feel more confident in the future of Europe for hearing him speak, and get at least some of their lost impetus back. How far he is from those I call the "embittered people of Europe", who, seeing European unity going in a direction which does not fully correspond to the dreams of their youth, become bitter and aggressive!

Jacques Delors couldn't be less like this. Of course he doesn't like everything about today's Europe. He still rues the fact that the Lisbon Summit of 26 and 27 June 1992 did not retain the parallel lines suggested between the enlargement and the "deepening" of the EU, which the Commission he chaired at the time felt was indispensable to the smooth running of the Union at a time when it was starting to look towards a future of some thirty Member States (there were ten at the time). You should hear what he has to say about the events of this Summit, determined by two events which had little to do with the subject quoted. François Mitterrand was getting ready for his impromptu trip to Sarajevo (he had to get the Serbs to agree to open up the airport), and various Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers (notably Schlà¼ter and Elleman Jensen of Denmark) had their minds on the final of the European football championships, which was taking place that evening (and which Denmark would win). In his "Mémoirs", Delors observed that "these events of unequal importance affected the quality of the debate on the prospects of enlargement ("¦). Members of the European Council swept our comments aside, without paying them the necessary attention". He now says that the problems the Commission raised at the time have still not been resolved. But the disappointment of that day does not mean that Jacques Delors has regrets today about enlargement to the Scandinavian and the central and eastern European countries! On the contrary, he thinks that opening Europe up to the East was the only action worthy of the European ideal, and he immediately rejected all disinclination and all reservations, stating that no selfish reasons could justify balking at the basic duty of reunifying European, by welcoming with open arms those countries which had been artificially sidelined from the unification of our continent.

A world power. Jacques Delors is disappointed in the attitude of those who have become sceptical about European construction because it no longer corresponds entirely to their own vision. The sincerity of the commitment, they feel, is proved by sticking to your guns. Does the Constitution bring with it any elements of progress? Yes. Then it must be supported, despite its shortcomings and the risks that it might slide towards the intergovernmental method for essential fields such as the Economic and Monetary Union (the imbalance between both planks subsists and the economic plank is in the grasp of an intergovernmental body) and, in perspective, external relations. The future European Foreign Minister will, as we know, be a vice-president of the Commission. Will he or she have the Community reflex, or a leaning towards intergovernmental structures, even in fields where the Commission has well-defined powers? Jacques Delors regrets that there is a distinction between Europe as a power and Europe as an area, because the current EU is already far more than just an area for the free movement of goods, capital and people. With its common policies, its decision-making powers in the field of mergers (even for third-country enterprises) and its capacities to negotiate on a global scale all issues related to trade, development aid, the environment and so on, the EU is already a world power of the first order. Jacques Delors does not, therefore, believe in the creation of two Europes, but in the application of the principle of "differentiation", whereby any given Member State can opt out of certain achievements (as is the case today with the single currency). Differentiation is not a word to inflame hearts and minds. But not everything can be done by all 25 (soon to be 27, then 30 or more). And Jacques Delors remains faithful to his own view: three major objectives which apply to all (and which add up to far more than just Europe as an area: see this column of 24 September), plus additional achievements, which are open to those which want to take part in them.

How can I condense everything Jacques Delors said and explained into this one little page? I propose to come back to some more of his main points at a later date. (F.R.)

 

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