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). He 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, on the French island of Réunion, and then still a colony (it became an overseas department in 1946).

Raymond Barre
Prime Minister of France
In office
25 August 1976 – 21 May 1981
PresidentValéry Giscard d'Estaing
Preceded byJacques Chirac
Succeeded byPierre Mauroy
Mayor of Lyon
In office
25 June 1995 – 25 March 2001
Preceded byMichel Noir
Succeeded byGérard Collomb
Minister of the Economy and Finance
In office
27 August 1976 – 5 April 1978
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byJean-Pierre Fourcade
Succeeded byRené Monory
Minister of Foreign Trade
In office
12 January 1976 – 25 August 1976
Prime MinisterJacques Chirac
Preceded byNorbert Ségard
Succeeded byAndré Rossi
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs
In office
7 February 1967 – 5 January 1973
PresidentJean Rey
Franco Maria Malfatti
Sicco Mansholt
Preceded byRobert Marjolin
Succeeded byWilhelm Haferkamp
Personal details
Raymond Octave Joseph Barre

(1924-04-12)12 April 1924
St-Denis, France
Died25 August 2007(2007-08-25) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Political partyIndependent, affiliated with UDF
The house where Raymond Barre was born in Saint-Denis, Réunion

Career edit

Professional life edit

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

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 External Trade in January 1976.

Premiership edit

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 primarily confronted with an economic crisis. He advocated numerous complex, strict policies ("Barre Plans"). The first Barre plan emerged on 22 September 1976, with a priority to stop inflation. It included a 3-month price freeze; a reduction in the value-added tax; wage controls; salary controls; a reduction of the growth in the money supply; and increases in the income tax, automobile taxes, luxury taxes and bank rates. There were measures to restore the trade balance and support the growth of the economy and employment. Oil imports, whose price had shot up, were limited. There was special aid to exports, and an action fund was set up to aid industries. There was increased financial aid to farmers, who were suffering from a drought, and for social security. The package was not very popular but was pursued with vigor.[1]

He did not use diplomatic language in the face of trade union opposition, . Instead, he mocked "the bearers of banners" (French: les porteurs de pancartes) and he exhorted "instead of grousing, you should work hard".

Post-premiership edit

After he departed from the head of the cabinet, he was elected deputy of Rhône département under the label of the Union for French Democracy (UDF). However, he never formally joined the party. 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 covertly supported 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 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 due to a judicial indictment, and consequently, Barre was the conservative candidate for 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,[2] where he was being treated for heart problems since his transfer from a hospital in Monaco on 11 April 2007.[3]

Political career edit

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 edit

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."[4][5]

In 2007, Barre argued on a radio show that "the Jewish lobby" had orchestrated criticism regarding his 1980 remarks. On this same show, Barre defended the collaborationist Maurice Papon at his trial, describing him as "a scapegoat." Barre was criticized for these remarks.[5]

Governments edit

Barre's First Government, 25 August 1976 – 30 March 1977 edit

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


  • 26 September 1977 – Fernand Icart succeeds Fourcade as Minister of Equipment and Regional Planning.

Barre's Third Government, 5 April 1978 – 21 May 1981 edit


  • 29 November 1978 – Jean François-Poncet succeeds Guiringaud as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • 4 July 1979 – Jacques Barrot succeeds Veil as Minister of Health and Social Security. Maurice Charretier succeeds Barrot as Minister of Commerce and Craft Industry.
  • 29 October 1979 – Jean Mattéoli succeeds Boulin as Minister of Labour and Participation.
  • 2 October 1980 – Joël Le Theule succeeds Bourges as Minister of Defense. Daniel Hoeffel succeeds Le Theule as Minister of Transport. Michel Cointat succeeds Deniau as Minister of External Commerce.
  • 22 December 1980 – Robert Galley succeeds Le Theule (d.14 December) as Minister of Defense.
  • 4 March 1981 – Michel d'Ornano succeeds Lecat as Minister of Culture. No one succeeds Lecat as Minister of Communication.

Retirement edit

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.[6]

Honours edit

French Honours edit

Foreign Honours edit

Works edit

  • La Période dans l'analyse économique – une approche à l'étude du temps, SEDEIS, 1950
  • Économie politique, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, Thémis économie, 1959
  • Le Développement économique : analyse et politique, 1958
  • Une politique pour l'avenir, Plon, 1981
  • La Désinflation, Paris, Que sais-je ?, 1983
  • Un plan pour l'Europe – la Communauté européenne, problèmes et perspectives, Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1984
  • Réflexions pour demain, 1984, Pluriel ISBN 2010102673
  • Au tournant du siècle, Plon, 1988
  • Questions de confiance – Entretiens avec Jean-Marie Colombani, Flammarion, 1988
  • Entretiens, collectif, 2001
  • L'Expérience du pouvoir, conversations avec Jean Bothorel, Fayard, 2007 ISBN 2213630313.[8]

References edit

  1. ^ J.R. Frears, France in the Giscard Presidency (1981) p. 135.
  2. ^ "BBC NEWS, French ex-PM Raymond Barre dies". 25 August 2007. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  3. ^ LeMonde.fr with AFP Archived 9 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 11 April 2007
  4. ^ TF1, late evening news, 3 October 1980[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b Bernard, Ariane (27 August 2007). "Raymond Barre, 83, Former French Premier, Dies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 February 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. ^ "French ex-PM Raymond Barre dies". BBC News. BBC. 25 August 2007. Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. ^ "BOE.es - Sumario del día 28/10/1976". www.boe.es. Retrieved 20 August 2023.
  8. ^ "L'expérience du pouvoir : conversations avec Jean Bothorel". FranceCulture.fr. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015..

Further reading edit

  • Bell, David et al. eds. Biographical Dictionary of French Political Leaders Since 1870 (1990) pp 18–20.
  • Bell, David. Presidential Power in Fifth Republic France (2000) passim.
  • Frears, J. R. France in the Giscard Presidency (1981) passim.
  • Ryan, W. Francis. "France under Giscard" Current History (May 1981) 80#466, pp. 201–6, online.

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by French European Commissioner
Served alongside: Jean-François Deniau, Henri Rochereau
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Succeeded by
European Commissioner for Economic and
Financial Affairs

Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Trade
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of the Economy and Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Lyon
Succeeded by