Jacques Delors became a household name during his decade as President of the European Commission. His conversion of the Commission presidency into a highly public and political role took many Euro-watchers by surprise. He acquired the image of a strong leader overstepping the boundaries of his formal authority, and his fame and notoriety quickly surpassed that of his predecessors. This fascinating study explores the combination of personal, political and other factors which lay behind the 'Delors phenomenon' and assesses Delors' legacy for poltical leadership and institutional reform in the European Union. It addresses questions including the role of individual leaders in contemporary politics and the contested legitimacy of the EU as a political system. Drake traces the development of Delors' thinking and expertise on European integration, and draws on his public life after the European Commission for additional perspectives on his Commission presidency.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with Delors, this comprehensive, accessibly written study of his life and Commission presidency is an invaluable resource for students of all levels in European and French Politics, as well as the general reader.
Helen Drake is a lecturer in the Department of European Studies, Loughborough University. She has published widely on aspects of French and European politics.