Michel Rocard

Former French Prime Minister

Chairman of the Advisory Council Counterpart Europe

Michel Rocard

Michel Rocard served as the Prime Minister of France between 1988 and 1991. Before that, he served as Minister of State for Planning and Regional Development from 1981-83 and as Minister of Agriculture from 1983-85. At present he is now the vociferous Chairman of the Advisory Council Counterpart Europe.

After studying at the École Nationale d′Administration and the Institut d′Études Politiques, Michel Rocard began his career in the civil service, as Inspector of Finance and then Head of the Economic Budgets Division in the Forecasts Directorate and Secretary-General of the National Accounts and Economic Budgets Commission.

Michel Rocard joined the French Socialist Party (named SFIO) in 1949 but left it because of the Algerian War in 1958 and joined the new Unified Socialist Party (PSU). Rocard was named its National Secretary in 1967, and spearheaded the party’s rise in popularity following the events of May and June 1968 and the resignation of President Charles de Gaulle in 1969. Rocard served in the National Assembly between 1969 and 1973, when he gave up the leadership of the PSU and returned to the civil service.   In 1974 he returned to the French Socialist Party, becoming the National Secretary with responsibility for the public sector.

In 1978 he was re-elected to the National Assembly and went on to serve as Minister of State for Planning and Regional Development (from 1981-83) and as Minister of Agriculture (from 1983-85).  In May 1985, however, Michel Rocard resigned from the cabinet in opposition to the government’s “expedient introduction of proportional representation” and the following month announced a tentative decision to run for the presidency when Mitterrand’s term ended in 1988. Before then he was promoted to the rank of Inspector General of Finance in 1985 and re-elected Socialist Deputy for Yvelines and elected Regional Councillor in Ile-de-France.

Following François Mitterrand’s re-election to the Presidency of the Republic in May 1988, Michel Rocard was appointed Prime Minister and stayed in this office until May 1991.

As Prime Minister of France, Michel Rocard contributed significantly to the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between Australia and France a Cambodian peace settlement.He played an important role in joint Australian-French efforts to preserve the continent of Antarctica, leading to a comprehensive environment protection regime incorporating a prohibition on mining.

In 1993 Michel Rocard became Prime Secretary of the French Socialist Party and in 1995 the Socialist Senator for Yvelines (he resigned in 1997).

Since 1994, Michel Rocard has been a member of the European Parliament, and chaired the Committee on Development and Cooperation (1997–1999), the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (1999–2002) and the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport.

In 1995 Michel Rocard was chosen to be one of the 15-member Canberra Commission for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, an international group formed by Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating and charged with helping to abolish nuclear weapons.

Michel Rocard has published numerous works and continues to provide a series of monthly commentaries for Project Syndicate, which aims to offer a global perspective on some of today’s most divisive issues.  He has received a number of awards, including an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia’s highest civilian honour, “for eminent service to Australian-French relations and the preservation of the Antarctic environment).

Michel Rocard was a Senior Advisor to the International Crisis Group and on the Advisory Board of the Democracy Coalition Project.  Since August 2007 he has held a post on a Commission to re-evaluate the teaching profession, under the authority of President Sarkozy’s Minister of Education, Xavier Darcos.