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Statement by President Higgins on the death of Jacques Delors

Date: Wed 27th Dec, 2023 | 21:15

"Jacques Delors will be rightly remembered as one of the foremost advocates for the best of what might be a truly inclusive European Union.

He represented a visionary moment in the evolution of Europe. This was reflected for example in activities such as his organisation of his discussion on the soul of Europe, to which he invited those of all faiths and ethical dispositions to participate. An open, generous vision of a Europe which should respect all traditions and cultures, and be built around a future of peace, mutual respect and dignity.

In his decade as President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors oversaw the introduction of a wide range of key initiatives, including the Erasmus programme for student exchange and the Schengen travel area. He also understood the importance of cultural policy as President of the Commission and gave it priority as part of his leadership.

Importantly, Delors recognised that economic needs must be balanced with the needs of society and that the new market demanded equal, if not greater, forms of protection for the citizen and the development of a Social Europe.

He was among those who continued to advocate for that balance and to developing a Europe of a global and inclusive vision for its citizens, including through the work of the Jacques Delors Institute.

As he put it, "Europe does not just need fire-fighters, it needs architects too". Jacques Delors was one of those foremost architects.

May I extend my sympathies to his daughter Martine Aubry, and to all of his family, colleagues and friends."