Former Irish Commissioner Peter Sutherland dies at 71

Peter Sutherland in 1986. [European Commission]

Former Irish Commissioner Peter Sutherland, who was also World Trade Organisation director general and Goldman Sachs international chairman died yesterday (7 January) at the age of 71, Ireland’s foreign minister said.

Sutherland, who also served as Ireland’s European Union commissioner and as attorney general during the 1980s, had been ill for some time, Irish national broadcaster RTE said, citing a statement from his family.

“Very sad at passing of Peter Sutherland. I knew him as a compassionate, driven, global thinker, always willing to challenge views,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Twitter.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker published a statement in which he says he was “deeply saddened” by the passing away of Sutherland

“In every sense of the word Peter Sutherland was a true European. He believed strongly in the work of the European Union and other international organisations and their importance for cooperation and international dialogue. He was one of the founding fathers of the Erasmus programme and was  instrumental in shaping our internal market in the early days and competition policy as we know it today,” Juncker stated.

Sutherland was appointed to the European Commission in 1985 under Jacques Delors and was at that time the youngest Commissioner. At first, he was tasked with education policy, revealing later that he was especially pleased to have proposed the establishment of the Erasmus programme.

Later, as Commissioner responsible for competition policy, he was chairman of the committee that produced The Sutherland Report on the completion of the Internal Market of the EEC, commissioned by the European Commission and presented to the European Council at its Edinburgh meeting in 1992.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also praised Sutherland as a great Irishman and a committed European.

Sutherland was known for serving in a variety of international organisations, political and business roles.

He was the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration until March 2017. He was also responsible for the creation of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and served as president of the International Catholic Migration Commission, as well as member of the Migration Advisory Board of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Subscribe to our newsletters