Raymond Barre

Raymond Barre
Prime Minister of France
In office
26 August 1976  22 May 1981
President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Preceded by Jacques Chirac
Succeeded by Pierre Mauroy
Mayor of Lyon
In office
Preceded by Michel Noir
Succeeded by Gérard Collomb
Minister of the Economy and Finance
In office
27 August 1976  5 April 1978
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Fourcade
Succeeded by René Monory
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs
In office
7 February 1967  5 January 1973
President Jean Rey
Franco Maria Malfatti
Sicco Mansholt
Preceded by Robert Marjolin
Succeeded by Wilhelm Haferkamp
Personal details
Born (1924-04-12)12 April 1924
St-Denis, France
Died 25 August 2007(2007-08-25) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Political party Union for French Democracy (Before 1981)
Independent (1981–2007)
Religion Roman Catholicism
The house where Raymond Barre was born in Saint-Denis, Réunion

Raymond Octave Joseph Barre (French: [ʁɛmɔ̃ baʁ]; 12 April 1924  25 August 2007) was a French centre-right politician and economist. He was a Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs under three Presidents (Rey, Malfatti and Mansholt) and later served as Prime Minister under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing from 1976 until 1981. As a candidate for the presidency in 1988, he came in third and was eliminated in the first round. He was born in Saint-Denis, in the French island of Réunion, then still a colony (it became an overseas department in 1946).


Professional life

After his education, Raymond Barre was professor of economics at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po).

From 1959 to 1962, he was director of Jean-Marcel Jeanneney's staff, in the ministry of Industry and Trade. Then, in 1967, President Charles de Gaulle chose him as vice-president of the European Commission for Economic & Financial Affairs. He stayed in Brussels until January 1973, serving in the Rey, Malfatti and Mansholt Commissions. Having come back to France, he joined the cabinet as minister of the External Trade in January 1976.


Seven months later, while mostly unknown at that time, President Giscard d'Estaing appointed him Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance. He presented him to the French people as "the best economist in France" (French: meilleur économiste de France). Under the Fifth Republic, he was the only person to hold these two offices at the same time. He left the ministry of Economy and Finance in 1978, but stayed as Prime minister until the defeat of Giscard d'Estaing at the 1981 presidential election.

At the head of the cabinet, he was faced with the conflict which divided the parliamentary majority between the "Giscardians" and the neo-Gaullist Rally for the Republic (RPR) led by his predecessor Jacques Chirac. The right majority unexpectedly won the 1978 legislative election.

Barre was also confronted with an economic crisis. He advocated a strict policy to cut inflation and public spending, and the industrial "restructuring" ("Barre Plans"). In the face of trade union opposition, he did not use diplomatic language, mocking "the bearers of banners" (French: les porteurs de pancartes) and he exhorted "instead of grousing, you should work hard".


After his departure from the head of the cabinet, he was elected deputy of Rhône département under the label of the Union for French Democracy (UDF). He held his parliamentary seat until 2002.

In the 1980s, he competed for the leadership of the right against Chirac. Believing that the "cohabitation" was incompatible with the "Fifth Republic", he let Chirac take the lead of the cabinet after the 1986 legislative election. He ran as UDF candidate for president in the 1988 election, but some components of his party supported covertly the other right-wing candidate, the Neo-Gaullist Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. In this, in spite of positive polls at the beginning of the campaign, he came the third behind the two protagonists of the "cohabitation": the Socialist President François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac. For the second round, he called his voters to transfer to the RPR candidate, who was finally defeated.

After the failure of his presidential candidacy, he focused on his local tenures, in Lyon. In 1995, the RPR Mayor of Lyon Michel Noir could not compete for another term in due to a judicial indictment, and consequently, Barre was the right-wing candidate to the mayoralty. He was elected but he did not run for a second term in 2001. One year later, he finished his last parliamentary term in the French National Assembly and retired from politics.

Raymond Barre was probably the only French politician to have reached such high levels of responsibilities without having ever been an official member or leader of any political party. He always kept some distance with what he considered to be the political "microcosm".

Raymond Barre died on 25 August 2007 at age 83 at the Val-de-Grâce military hospital in Paris,[1] where he was being treated for heart problems since his transfer from a hospital in Monaco on 11 April 2007.[2]

Political career

Governmental functions

Prime minister : 1976–1981.

Minister of Economy and Finance : 1976–1978.

Minister of Foreign Trade : January–August 1976.

Electoral mandates

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Rhône (department) : 1981–2002. Elected in 1981, reelected in 1986, 1988, 1993, 1997.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Lyon : 1995–2001.

Municipal councillor of Lyon : 1995–2001.

Urban community Council

President of the Urban Community of Lyon : 1995–2001.

Member of the Urban Community of Lyon : 1995–2001.

Bilderberg Conference participant 1983

Allegations of antisemitism

Raymond Barre standing next to Mother Tessa Bielecki and Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits during the 1989 World Economic Forum

On several occasions, Raymond Barre made remarks that were interpreted as antisemitic, or at least supportive of antisemitism. In 1980, when he was prime minister, a bombing was attempted against the Union Libérale Israélite de France, a synagogue in the rue Copernic, Paris; however the bomb detonated in the street when the Jews attending shabbat were inside the synagogue, and not when they were out; but as a result some non-Jewish bystanders were killed. Raymond Barre then famously denounced:

"A hateful attack which wanted to strike at the Jews who were in that synagogue, and which struck innocent French people who were crossing the street."[3]

A controversy erupted because Raymond Barre's sentence seemed to imply that the Jews inside the synagogue were neither completely innocent, or were not French.

Later, Barre was criticized for defending the collaborationist Maurice Papon at his trial. He issued the following statement to his accusers:

"I am and have always been on the side of the Holocaust's survivors to condemn barbarity and its accomplices."[4]


Barre's First Government, 27 August 1976 – 30 March 1977

Barre's Second Government, 30 March 1977 – 5 April 1978


Barre's Third Government, 5 April 1978 – 22 May 1981



Barre retired from active politics in June 2002. He was being treated at a hospital for a heart condition since April 2007 when he died on 25 August 2007. He was survived by his wife and two sons.[5]


Political offices
Preceded by
Henri Rochereau
French European Commissioner
Served alongside: Jean-François Deniau, Henri Rochereau
Succeeded by
Jean-François Deniau
Preceded by
Robert Marjolin
Succeeded by
Claude Cheysson
Succeeded by
François-Xavier Ortoli
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Haferkamp
Preceded by
Norbert Ségard
Minister of External Commerce
Succeeded by
André Rossi
Preceded by
Jacques Chirac
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Pierre Mauroy
Preceded by
Jean-Pierre Fourcade
Minister of the Economy and Finance
Succeeded by
René Monory
Preceded by
Michel Noir
Mayor of Lyon
Succeeded by
Gérard Collomb
Party political offices
Preceded by
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Union for French Democracy nominee for President of France
Succeeded by
François Bayrou
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