Prominent European Statesman Jacques Delors Dies At 98

(Public/Screenshot/Twitter/User: European Trade Unions @etuc_ces)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Former European Commission President Jacques Delors died in his sleep Wednesday in Paris aged 98, his daughter said, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The Frenchman served as President from 1985 to 1995, helping to forge the continental single market for the free flow of people, goods and services, and preparing Europe for the single European currency, the euro, the BBC reported.

The eighth EU president, Delors was described as the driving force for the modern European Union (EU). His desire for post-World War II integration drove him to create the Schengen agreement to foster travel across the continent and the Erasmus program to encourage student exchanges between member states, the BBC reported.

EU President Ursula von der Leyen described Delors as “a visionary who made our Europe stronger” in a Twitter statement. “His life’s work … shaped entire generations of Europeans, including mine,” she added.

Delors was a “visionary statesman” who “transformed Europe through tireless service to the idea of a Europe whole and free,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said via Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised Delors as the “[i]nexhaustible craftsman of our Europe” and a “[f]ighter for human justice” in a Twitter statement. (RELATED: One Of Highest Ranking Officials In Europe Dies At Age 65)

Delors’ commitment to “federalism” put him at odds with the late Margaret Thatcher, who was the U.K.’s Prime Minister at the time and objected to all transfers in authority to the EU, Reuters reported.

The British tabloid The Sun once urged its readers to “tell the French fool where to stuff his [European Currency Unit]” which was later replaced with the euro. “They insult us, burn our lambs, flood our country with dodgy food and plot to abolish the dear old pound,” the news story headlined “Up Yours, Delors” read in part.

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31, 2020, following a nationwide June 23, 2016 referendum and difficult exit negotiations with the EU.

“To honour his legacy, let us keep working as a community of destiny towards an ever-stronger Union, filled with our collective soul,” the European Commission said on Twitter.