Manuel Marin in 2009
As State Secretary for Relations with the European Communities he was, effectively, Chief Negotiator for Spain’s admission to
the European Communities. He was,
moreover, considered the
father of the Erasmus
Spanish politician Manuel Marín González (21 October 1949 – 4 December 2017) was born in Ciudad Real, Castile-La Mancha. He studied law at Madrid’s Complutense University then went on to take a Diploma in European Community Law at Nancy University, France, and the Certificate of Advanced European Studies at the College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium. Since 1974 he was a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and in that connection he was elected in 1977 to the Spanish Congress of Deputies, and re-elected in 1979 and 1982, representing his home province.
Marin was former President of Spain’s Congress of Deputies and a long-time member of the European Commission, including as acting President at one time. He is considered the father of the Erasmus Programme.
Following the Socialist success in the Spanish general elections of 1982 Marín joined the government as State Secretary for Relations with the European Communities. In that high profile capacity, he was effectively a Chief Negotiator for Spain’s admission to the European Communities.
The successful negotiations resulted in the admission of Spain to the European Communities. Which negotiations and eventual admission were seen as a seal of approval of Spain’s transition from the Franco dictatorship to a genuine parliamentary democracy. In this sense, the clear victory of the PSOE in the 1982 elections demonstrated the political maturity of the country and gave Marín the political cards needed to demonstrate the importance, both to Spain and to Europe in general, of Spanish membership.
On 1 January 1986 Spain joined the European Community. Marín was nominated as Spain’s first member of the European Commission, a major Commissioner at that (larger countries at that time nominated two European Commissioners, generally one from the governing party and one from the Opposition). He was appointed a Vice-President of the European Commission when Jacques Delors first presided the Commission.
Marín was given the portfolio of Social Affairs, Education and Employment. He was responsible for a number of important initiatives; he was the Commissioner responsible for the presentation of the proposal for the Erasmus Programme which, today, has acquired the status of an icon of European integration. And yet, in many ways, his priority was the successful integration of Spain into the life of the European Communities.
Life after Europe
Marín returned to Spain and was elected in Ciudad Real for the PSOE in the general elections of 12 March 2000 and 14 March 2004. Following the latter, he was elected as Speaker of the Congress of Deputies. He was also a member of the Global Commission on International Migration.
Manuel Marín was married with two children. He died of lung cancer.
Featured image: urcomunicacion, cc by-sa3.0
For behind-the-scenes account of the negotiations for Spain’s membership in the European Communities (now European Union), see Guidepost reprint of “THE EEC? I THOUGHT WE WERE ON ANOTHER PLANET,” 10 MAY 1985