Jacques Delors, Passionate Architect of European Unity, Dies at 98

Reluctance in France and Britain kept the commitment to political unity, an aspirational United States of Europe, weak. Still, four countries — Austria, Norway, Finland and Sweden — joined the union during Mr. Delors’s presidency.

Mr. Delors’s married Marie Lephaille in 1948. She died in 2020. Their son, Jean-Paul, died of leukemia in 1982. Their daughter, Ms. Aubry, is a prominent Socialist politician and the longtime mayor of Lille, a city in northern France. In addition to her, Mr. Delors’s survivors include a granddaughter.

Toward the end of his tenure, Mr. Delors was increasingly perceived as arrogantly bent on strengthening the power of the European Union over its member states. Critics say the rise of a school of euroskeptic politicians in France, Britain and Denmark in the 1990s was a reaction to his overreach and a part of his legacy.

He remained popular in France, however. In 1994, he declined to run for president, even though polls put him comfortably ahead of Jacques Chirac, the eventual victor.

He was also held up, wistfully, as a model of leadership by some in Europe in the depths of the euro crisis.

“If Delors was in charge in Europe, Mitterrand in France and Kohl in Germany,” Theodoros Pangalos, the deputy prime minister of Greece, said in 2010, “things would not be the same.”

Paul Lewis, a former European correspondent for The Times, died in 2022. Landon Thomas, Aurelien Breeden and Herbert Buchsbaum contributed reporting.