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” Come on, courage, the Spring of Europe is still ahead of us ! ” Jacques Delors, Speech to the European Parliament, 19 January 1995

Newsletter January 2024

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Matelly S. « ” Come on, courage, the Spring of Europe is still ahead of us ! ” Jacques Delors, Speech to the European Parliament, 19 January 1995 », Newsletter, Paris : Jacques Delors Institute, January 2024

On December 27th, our founding President Jacques Delors passed away. The many articles published and tributes paid throughout Europe and beyond highlight the relevance of his vision for Europe and the projects he initiated or supported: European social dialogue, the Erasmus programme, the single market and the euro, strengthening cohesion policy, European research programmes. He believed that Europe should be united and show solidarity, and his vision remains ambitious and visionary. As early as 1992, he championed the idea of a carbon tax and, a little later, the idea of a European energy community, which was so cruelly lacking when the war in Ukraine broke out. He also recommended that we also think about the political, social and ecological dimensions of European integration. Back in 2020, was he not concerned about the lack of solidarity among Europeans in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic, a “mortal danger” for Europe, has he explained?

For many of us,” said Enrico Letta in an article for La Croix, “Jacques Delors was the true architect of the Europe we dreamed of. A dream come true. The generation of those who, like me, were born in the 1960s, and those who followed, were able to witness the birth of the Europe without borders that they were calling for, and had the privilege of experiencing all the opportunities for peace and development that this represented”. I am one of them, and when I take up my post at the director of the Jacques Delors Institute on October 2nd 2023, I obviously have all this in mind, as well as a real pride in having had the honour of being chosen to head the Institute that he created and the team that was so attached to him. When I entered my office that Monday, the first thing I saw was his picture, fixed there as a tutelary and reassuring figure. A little later, a colleague brought me some key books of interviews with Jacques Delors. I refined my understanding of who he was, the values he espoused, his method and his vision of Europe, a vision so contemporary and so topical that it could be thought of as a work programme for the next 20 years.

Jacques Delors is also a method described by Pascal Lamy in an article published a few days ago by Le Grand Continent: “He marked out a path to be followed, marking it out with radars. These signalled any unforeseen obstacles which, if not taken into account, risked leading us down the wrong road or causing us to swerve. The Delors method was quite scientific in this respect.

I didn’t have the chance to meet him and that will remain a regret. But even though I didn’t really know him personally, the loss he left behind is palpable, as his presence is still felt today. Many of us were very close and anecdotes quickly flowed between us. He also leaves behind three institutes in Paris, Berlin and Brussels, which he created and of which he was so proud. All our projects (youth, energy, environment and climate, greater Europe, social Europe, single market, etc.) were inspired by his ideas and the values we defend, which were also his own.

Finally, there were all the tributes. They allow us to measure the mark left by Jacques Delors. In writing these few lines, I am of course thinking of his family and all those close to him, many of whom share his grief. For us, the Jacques Delors Institute, the challenge now is no small one, especially in 2024, a year of European elections in an international context that is more conflictual than ever. In his speech at the tribute ceremony on January 5th, the French President summed up Jacques Delors’ ambition as follows: “To reconcile peoples from now on, so that no life is ever again mutilated by the blindness of men, and to reconcile Europe with its future”. Every day highlights the incompleteness of Jacques Delors’ project. A little lonely at present, we are nevertheless more motivated than ever to pursue it thanks to the path paved by our founder.

Goodbye Mr President and thank you for this rich heritage.

Sylvie Matelly 

Director of the Jacques Delors Institute