The Ode to Joy will resound on Friday January 5, just after La Marseillaise, in the courtyard of Les Invalides, where Emmanuel Macron will pay a solemn tribute to Jacques Delors from 11 a.m. A European event for the apostle of European construction, whose “legacy” the president invoked for the “decisive choices” that the continent will have to make in this election year.

The former president of the European Commission, father of the euro and ephemeral hope of the French left in the 1995 presidential election, died on December 27 at the age of 98.

The Head of State, who has already saluted the “inexhaustible architect of our Europe”, chose to pay him a national tribute, in the presence of numerous European leaders. According to his entourage, the president will celebrate the role played by Jacques Delors on the French scene.

Minister of the Economy (1981-1984) under François Mitterrand, Jacques Delors had greatly disappointed the left by refusing to run in the 1995 presidential election even though he was the big favorite in the polls. In Brussels, where he remained at the head of the Commission from 1985 to 1995, he played the role of architect in shaping the contours of contemporary Europe: establishment of the single market, signing of the Schengen agreements, Single European Act, launch of the Erasmus student exchange program, reform of the common agricultural policy, start of economic and monetary union which will lead to the creation of the euro…

Around a hundred Erasmus students present

Mr. Macron is expected to say that “France would not have remained a sovereign power in Europe as we know it today without Jacques Delors,” one adviser told reporters. She “would undoubtedly be less in control of her destiny.”

In his wishes addressed to the population on December 31, the president invoked his “heritage” to call for the “decisive choice” of a “stronger, more sovereign Europe” to be made in 2024. To remember his “concrete achievements”, around a hundred Erasmus program students from all over Europe will be present at the tribute.

Even if it is not a question of transforming this tribute into a campaign platform, the speech of Mr. Macron, who regularly poses as the leader of the pro-European “progressives”, should resonate in the light of the European elections of June, while the far right is leading in the polls in France. Especially since he will be in the presence of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, one of the leaders of the nationalist camp in Europe.

Tribute to Brussels in January

France invited all the heads of state and government of the European Union, as well as the heads of community institutions, current or in office when Mr. Delors was in Brussels from 1985 to 1995.

Around ten have confirmed their presence, including the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo. The presidents of the European Council, Commission, Parliament and Central Bank are also expected, before a European tribute to be held in Brussels later in January.

Everyone will then be received for lunch at the Elysée. The mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, daughter of Mr. Delors, was closely involved in the preparations for the ceremony but will not speak, the presidency said.