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date: 23 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Although the Commission president holds a key position in the EU political system, the powers of the presidency have only recently come to match the importance of the office. The role is broadly similar to that of a prime minister of a national government, but the Commission president confronts a more complex environment, lacks the resources available to most heads of government, and is subject to more severe constraints. Despite these formidable obstacles, however, three incumbents – Walter Hallstein, Roy Jenkins, and Jacques Delors – have been especially effective. This article examines the achievements of each in turn, before considering what lessons, if any, can be drawn concerning the conditions for a successful presidency. It begins with a brief description of the role and powers of the Commission president before the treaty changes of the 1990s and after.

Keywords: EU, Walter Hallstein, Roy Jenkins, Jacques Delors, European Commission president

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