Nowadays the European Commission is regarded as a regulatory organisation, issuing directives and monitoring national performance. But it has always had a responsibility as a highlevel think tank, making proposals for the future development of the association for national minisers to consider. In 1977, fulfilling this function, Roy Jenkins made a speech in Florence which looked a long way forward; what he proposed became, first, the European Monetary System and, more recently, the European single currency the euro. He was able to do this with confidence because of his own exceptional intellectual qualities and his experience in Britain as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It cannot be said that the more recent occupants of the post of President of the European Commission have lived up to Lord Jenkins' outstanding qualities. His death should remind us of the need for politicians of the highest calibre to serve in Brussels not compromise candidates.