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The Delors Commission was the administration of Jacques Delors, the 8th President of the European Commission. Delors presided over the European Commissionmarker for three terms (though the last one lasted for around a year. The first term lasted from 1985 to 1988, the second until 1992 and the final one until 1994 making Delors the longest serving President and his Commission is also seen as the most successful. It was the only Commission to serve three times, and Delors served five two year-terms (as they were then). The third Commission was the first Commission of the European Union, the Maastricht Treaty having come into force in 1993.


The European Commissionsmarker led by Jacques Delors are regarded by some as the most successful in the European Union's history, a gold standard by which future Commissions are judged in giving the Community a sense of direction and dynamism. Delors himself became an icon for Europe.


The first Delors Commission
Delors entered office when eurosclerosis was at its height. The slow pace of enlargement, lack of democracy and economic problems caused that negative and apathetic attitudes to the Community were high. The preceding Thorn Commission was unable to exercise its authority to any meaningful extent in the face of the British vetoes on EU projects to force a more favourable agreement for it on the Community budget. Delors had previously been one of the architects of the agreement at Fontainebleaumarker, which secured the UK rebate, and Delors intended that the settling of the budget issue should herald a new era of European integration.

Following Delors' arrival in Brusselsmarker, he visited the various member states and found the same complaint that Europe reacted too slowly to issues, but did find common agreement on the single market, with its business and cultural meaning, and hence Delors placed it as his main priority with a date for its achievement: 1992 (Objectif 1992). Despite his modern reputation he was criticised by federalists for not going far enough, even earning criticism from Altiero Spinelli in the European Parliamentmarker, but Delors defended his goals as pragmatic stating "we are all slaves to the circumstances". To accomplish his goal of completing the single market, Delors had to master the political system of the community: with any member able to block a proposal in the Council, Delors convinced leaders to introduce Qualified Majority Voting so the procedure could not grind to a halt as it did under the budget disagreement. Thus, Delors set Lord Cockfield, his Internal Market Commissioner, in drafting the legislation. Now, Cockfield's work is seen as highly precise and his knowledge of the system legendary.


President Delors in 1988
The Delors Commission gave a new momentum to the process of European integration. They 'completed' the internal market and laid the foundations for the single European currency. European Economic and Monetary Union was based on the three stage plan drawn up by a committee headed by Delors (the Delors Report). Delors and his Commissioners are considered the "founding fathers" of the euro. The groundwork and political persuasion was achieved through the work of the Commissioners leading to the signature of the Single European Act (SEA) in February 1986 and the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992.

The Delors Commission was also responsible for the creation of the Committee of the Regions, having enshrined the idea of cohesion between EU states and regions in the SEA in 1986 leading Delors to propose the body in 1992. It was created in 1994 and the building the body occupies was named after Delors in 2006. Delors' Commission oversaw a large degree of expansion. The membership of Spain and Portugal came first in 1985; then the fall of the Berlin Wallmarker enabled the Reunification of Germany; and in 1995 came the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden. The Delors Commission also prepared the opening to the eastern countries who later joined in 2004.

In 1988 Delors addressed the British Trade Union Congress; his speech about a social Europe was pivotal in turning British Labour pro-European and the British Conservatives against it. In 1992, as Delors' second term was coming to an end, the International Herald Tribune noted the effect of the Delors Commission, and the need for a third term;

Following his entrance into a Europe of eurosclerosis, Delors had heralded 20 years of euphoria. In contrast, the Santer Commission which succeeded Delors in 1995 was forced to resign over allegations of corruption and the Prodi Commission won little praise despite presiding over the 2004 enlargement and the implementation of the single currency.

Major events

The Second Delors Commission
The Commission was the longest serving executive to date and oversaw many events in the history of the Union.


The three Delors Commissions (generally known as "Delors I", Delors II" and "Delors III") had considerable continuity of membership and political balance, but there were nonetheless differences.

First college

This Commission served from 1985 to 1988, although the Spanish and Portuguese members only joined as from their countries' membership of the European Communities on 1 January 1986.

Portfolio Name State Party
President Jacques Delors Socialist Partymarker
Agriculture and fisheries
Frans Andriessen CDA
Budget, financial control, personnel and administration
Henning Christophersen Venstre
Internal market, tax law and customs
Lord Cockfield Conservative Party
Social affairs, employment and education
Manuel Marin PSOE
Industry, information technology and science and research
Karl-Heinz Narjes CDU
Cooperation, development affairs and enlargement
Lorenzo Natali DC
Mediterranean policy and North-South relations Claude Cheysson Socialist Partymarker
External relations and trade policy Willy De Clercq Liberal
Environment, consumer protection and transport Stanley Clinton Davis Labour
Fisheries António Cardoso e Cunha Social Democratic Party
Credit, investments, financial instruments and small & medium-sized enterprises Abel Matutes People's Party
Energy & Euratom Nicolas Mosar CSV
Economic affairs and employment Alois Pfeiffer CSU
Institutional reforms, information policy, culture and tourism Carlo Ripa di Meana Sinistra Verde
Economic affairs and employment Peter Schmidhuber CSU
Competition, social affairs and education Peter Sutherland Fine Gael
Relations with the European Parliament, regional policy and consumer protection Grigoris Varfis PASOK

Second college

This Commission served from 1989 to 1992.

Portfolio Name State Party
President Jacques Delors PSmarker
External relations and trade policy
Frans Andriessen CDA
Internal market and industrial affairs
Martin Bangemann FDP
Competition and financial institutions
Sir Leon Brittan Conservative
Economic & financial affairs and coordination of structural funds
Henning Christophersen Venstre
Cooperation, development and fisheries
Manuel Marin PSOE
Science, research, development, telecommunications and innovation
Filippo Maria Pandolfi DC
Energy, Euratom, small businesses; staff and translation Antonio Cardoso e Cunha PSD
Audiovisual and cultural affairs Jean Dondelinger None
Agriculture and rural development Ray MacSharry Fianna Fáil
Mediterranean and Latin American policy Abel Matutes People's Party
Transport and consumer protection Karel Van Miert SP
Regional Policy Bruce Millan Labour
Employment, industrial relations and social affairs Vasso Papandreou PASOK
Environment, nuclear safety and civil protection Carlo Ripa di Meana Sinistra Verde
Budget Peter Schmidhuber CSU
Taxation and customs union Christiane Scrivener Republican Party

Third college

This Commission served from 1993 to 1994. It was the first Commission of the European Union, with the Maastricht Treaty coming into force. Its short tenure was designed to bring the mandates of the Commission into line with those of the European Parliament.

Portfolio Name State Party
President Jacques Delors PSmarker
Internal market, industrial affairs and ICT
Martin Bangemann FDP
External economic affairs and trade policy
Sir Leon Brittan Conservative
Economic and financial affairs
Henning Christophersen Venstre
Cooperation, development and humanitarian aid
Manuel Marin PSOE
Karel Van Miert SP
Science, research, technological development and education
Antonio Ruberti PSI
Transport and energy Marcelino Oreja People's Party
Environment, fisheries Ioannis Paleokrassas ND
Agriculture and rural development René Steichen CSV
Transport and energy Abel Matutes People's Party
Institutional reform, internal market and enterprise Raniero Vanni d'Archirafi unknown
Taxation, customs union and consumer policies Christiane Scrivener Liberal
Budget, financial control and the cohesion fund Peter Schmidhuber CSU
Social affairs and employment Pádraig Flynn Fianna Fáil
Relations with Parliament, culture and audiovisual João de Deus Pinheiro PSD/PP
External relations and enlargement Hans van den Broek CDA
Regional policy and cohesion Bruce Millan Labour


The colour of the row indicates the approximate political leaning of the office holder using the following scheme:
Affiliation First term Second term Third term
right leaning / conservative 8 6 7
left leaning / socialist 6 7 6
Centrist / liberal 2 3 3
Green party 1 1 0
other / unknown 1 1 1


The Secretary-General of the European Commission throughout the three Delors Commissions was David Williamson.

See also


  1. A Bit More Delors Could Revamp the Commission 21/01/92
  2. Portfolio shared with António Cardoso e Cunha after Portugal joined the Community (5 January 1986)
  3. From 5 January 1986 after Spain joined the Community
  4. From 5 January 1986 after Portugal joined the Community
  5. From 5 January 1986 after Spain joined the Community
  6. Until 1 August 1987, when replaced by Peter Schmidhuber
  7. Portfolio shared with Abel Matutes after Spain joined the Community (5 January 1986)
  8. From 22 September 1987, replacing Alois Pfeiffer
  9. Portfolio shared with Abel Matutes after Spain joined the Community (5 January 1986)
  10. Portfolio shared with Manuel Marin after Spain joined the Community (5 January 1986)
  11. After April 1994, replacing Abel Matutes
  12. Until April 1994, replaced by Marcelino Oreja


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