“The way to pay tribute to (former President of the European Commission) Jacques Delors is not just by remembering his achievements. Now that there are threats that jeopardise his legacy, we need to explain to our citizens why we are pro-Europeans and why Europe is our hope, our future, and our destiny.”
This appeal was made by Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, at the opening of the first plenary session of 2024 in Strasbourg this evening. The plenary session opened with a ceremony honouring the life and legacy of Delors, who passed away on 27th December 2023. A fighter for social rights and justice, he served as He served as President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995 and was a crucial figure in the creation of the EU’s single market and the Economic and Monetary Union.
Describing Delors as a convinced social democrat, the leader of the socialists and democrats in the EP recalled how he was aware of the need to enlarge the EU, to guarantee cohesion and a fair distribution of wealth amongst the people of Europe. He was a visionary who wanted more Europe because he believed in democracy, in the ideals of justice and equality, and the power we Europeans can exercise when we act as one.
“We are pro-Europeans because our long history of brutal wars has taught us that conflicts must be resolved peacefully, which is crucial in a world without peace like the one in which we live today. We are pro-Europeans because we share the values of democracy, the rule of law, gender equality, and the protection of miniroties. We are pro-Europeans because the social market economy, which guarantees economic growth and social cohesion, is the best source of progress. We are pro-Europeans because we believe that our countries can make their strenth tell when we meet challenges like climate change, the digital changeover, tax evasion, or the imperial cravings of Putin. Ultimatey, we’re pro-European because history shows us that, after each crisis, out union comes out more united and more imntegrated,” said Iratxe García Pérez. Stressing the need to be even more pro-Europeans in the future, she recalling that Jacques Deloirs himself said that “Europe is a construction that must be constantly reinvented”.
During the commemoration ceremony, a minute of silence was observed. Statements were also made by EP President Roberta Metsola and one speaker for each political group. President Metsola described Jacques Delors as a giant, a public servant, and a visionary: “He believed in a Europe built on competition that stimulates, cooperation that strengthens, and solidarity that unites. His vision guides us still today. We honour his memory by keeping his legacy alive.”
Main photo: EP Plenary session – Commemoration of Jacques Delors. (Photo: Philippe STIRNWEISS/EP)