France mourns former Commissioner Jacques Barrot

Jacques Barrot, (left) died on Wednesday 3 December. [Ministère du Travail de l'Emploi et de la santé/Flickr]

The French Parliament observed a minute’s silence on Wednesday (3 December), following the death of the former minister and European Commission Vice-President. EURACTIV France reports

Jacques Barrot, a former minister in the governments of two French Presidents, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Jacques Chirac, and a former Vice-President of the European Commission, has died at the age of 77.

The former European Commissioner, who had been a member of the Constitutional Council of France since 2010, died in the Paris metro, according to France Bleu Haute-Loire.

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has praised Jacques Barrot as “a man of conviction, who embodied the values of dialogue, openness, humanity and Christian democracy”.

Christian Jacob, President of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) group in the French Parliament, also paid homage to “a great national servant” who had “made his mark on the political life of our country for 40 years”.

Jacques Barrot, who was deeply attached to his home in the Haute-Loire, was also a staunch Europhile.

He was elected to the French Parliament for the first time in 1967, where he served as Secretary of State for Housing, Minister for Trade and Minister for Health between 1974 and 1981, and then as Minister for Employment from 1995 to 1997.

In Brussels, Jacques Barrot served as Commissioner for Transport, Internal Affairs and Justice between 2004 and 2010.

Many people will remember Barrot for the tears he shed on the evening of 21 April 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round of the French presidential election. 


The French President François Hollande said “Jacques Barrot demonstrated an exemplary understanding of the common interest in the exercise of all his ministerial functions and local mandates. He was particularly concerned with social questions and led a bold programme of healthcare reforms.

He always showed a willingness to bridge party divides, whilst remaining faithful to his political family. Finally, and above all, Jacques Barrot was a committed European, who worked relentlessly to promote the idea of solidarity across the continent”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of the UMP and former French President, said "whether in his hometown of Yssingeaux, in his department of the Haute-Loire, as a minister, a European Commissioner or a member of the Constitutional Council, he always promoted discussion and the search for common ground.

More than a political figure, France has lost a great humanist".

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, President of the Union of Democrats and Independents, described the loss as "brutal". "Jacques was a humanist and a Christian-democrat like me. Our political family has lost one of its most eminent and exemplary members.

This historic figure in Christian democracy led, throughout his career, a fierce fight for the European construction, for humanism in Europe, for European projects, faithful to the ideals of its founding fathers," said Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister for the Economy”. 

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