The Delors Commission was the administration of Jacques Delors, the eighth President of the European Commission. Delors presided over the European Commission 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 at advancing European integration. 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.


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 Wall 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. 

Following his entrance into a Europe of eurosclerosis, Delors had heralded 20 years of euphoria. 

In opposition to the strident neoliberalism of American President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) which dominated the American political agenda, Delors and his Commission promoted an alternative interpretation of capitalism that embedded it in the European social structure. He synthesized three themes. From the left came favouring the redistribution of wealth, and the protection of the weakest. Second a neo-mercantilist approach wanted to maximize European industrial output. A third was reliance on the marketplace. His emphasis on the social nature of Europe is central to an important exceptionalism narrative that became central to the self identification of the European Union.

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.

  • 1985: Greenland leaves the Community. Gravier ruling by the ECJ on non-discrimination by nationality.
  • 1986: Spain and Portugal join the Communities. The Single European Act is signed. Marshall ruling by the ECJ on non-discrimination by gender. The European flag is adopted by the Communities, it is raised outside the Berlaymont.
  • 1987: 30 years since the Treaties of Rome. Membership application submitted by Turkey. Single European Act enters into force.
  • 1988: Delors asked to draw up a report on Economic and Monetray Union (the Delors Report). The Court of First Instance is established. The Delors Package I was adopted, increasing the budget (notably for structural policy) and reforming the budgetary procedure.
  • 1989: Cowan ruling by the ECJ on non-discrimination by nationality. Delors Report presented. Declaration of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms adopted by the Parliament. Third direct elections to Parliament held. Spain and Portugal join the European Monetary System. Berlin Wall falls, leading to agreements and accession of eastern countries. Lomé  Convention signed. First European Union Merger law adopted.
  • 1990: Commission meets for 1000th time. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development established. Schengen agreement signed. Reunification of Germany.
  • 1991: Stoeckel ruling by the ECJ on non-discrimination by gender. ECHO established. Energy Charter signed. USSR dissolves.
  • 1992: Maastrict Treay signed, Denmark fails to ratify. European Economic Area (EEA) agreement signed, Switzerland fails to ratify.
  • 1993: Single European Market enters force. Maastricht is ratified and enters into force.
  • 1994: European Monetary Institute established. EEA enters force. Committee of the Regions established. Accession negotiations for Austria, Norway, Sweden and Finland conclude. European Investment Fund established. Hungary and Poland apply to join. Fourth direct elections to the Parliament are held.


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.

Second college

This Commission served from 1989 to 1992.

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.

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