For most of its history, the public figurehead of what is now the European Union has been the President of the European Commission. In this volume, the editors have for the first time assembled a complete collection of specially written concise political biographies of all eleven of the Presidents from Walter Hallstein (1958-1967) to José Manuel Barroso (2004-2014), exploring their successes, failures, impact and legacy. This portfolio of mini-biographies makes fascinating reading in its own right, and to this the editors have added a thematic overview, drawing out the many similarities and contrasts between the Presidents and providing some general conclusions about what one President, Roy Jenkins, termed ‘an impossible job’.
This is a book of relevance to all who are interested in the history of the EU and its institutions and wish to understand how it got to where it is today. And, as the EU confronts immense challenges under the new Commission presidency of Jean-Claude Juncker, it also provides many signposts and pertinent historical analogies for the future.
Introduction, by Jan Werts
1. Walter Hallstein (1958-1967): the founding President, by Wilfried Loth
2. Jean Rey (1967-1970): Europe whenever possible, by Vincent Dujardin and Marie Scheid
3. Franco Maria Malfatti (1970-1972): an uncompleted presidency, by Antonio Varsori
4. Sicco Mansholt (1972-1973): high-profile substitute, by Johan van Merriënboer
5. François-Xavier Ortoli (1973-1977): ‘drifting with the tide’, by Laurent Warlouzet
6. Roy Jenkins (1977-1981): ‘My fear always is that we shall go too slow’, by Melissa Yeager
7. Gaston Thorn (1981-1985): a forgotten President, by Klaus Schwabe
8. Jacques Delors (1985-1995): navigating the European stream at full flow, by N. Piers Ludlow
9. Jacques Santer (1995-1999): President of the Commission in times of transition, by Michael Gehler
10. Romano Prodi (1999-2004): so much to do at such a critical time, by Laura Fasanaro and Leopoldo Nuti
11. José Manuel Barroso (2004-2014): the cautious reformer in troubled times, by Anjo G. Harryvan and Jan van der Harst
Conclusion: an impossible job? by Gerrit Voerman and Jan van der Harst
16 pages of illustrations
Jan van der Harst is professor in the history and theory of European integration, and holder of the Jean Monnet chair, at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.
Gerrit Voerman is director of the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, where he is professor in Dutch and European party systems.