The former European Commission president Jacques Delors, a driving force behind postwar European integration and the single-currency project, has died.

He was 98. His death in Paris was confirmed by his daughter Martine Aubry.

A working-class Frenchman who rose to Europe’s highest office, Mr Delors helped build the border-free single market, paved the way to the common currency and oversaw the expansion of the European Union from 10 to 15 countries.

The 11th president of the Brussels-based commission, Mr Delors was more powerful than his predecessors, partly because of the patronage of German chancellor Helmut Kohl and French president Francois Mitterand, the EU’s dominant tandem at the time.

He served as president of the European Commission, the EU executive, for three terms — longer than any other holder of the office — from January 1985 until the end of 1994,  a period that saw major steps in the bloc's integration.

These included the creation of the common market, the Schengen accords for travel, the Erasmus programme for student exchanges and the creation of the bloc's single currency, the euro.

His drive for increased integration met with resistance in some member states, particularly the UK under prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Mrs Thatcher supported the 1986 decision to create a single market but opposed Mr Delors’s later plans for more social legislation and a common currency. She derided the latter as a “rush of blood to the head”.

"Up Yours Delors" read a 1990 front-page headline in Eurosceptic tabloid newspaper The Sun, which voiced its concerns about a single currency and increased powers for the European Parliament.

For his part, he explained in an interview his reaction to Mrs Thatcher: “I think for Mme Thatcher I was a curious personage: a Frenchman, a Catholic, an intellectual, a socialist.”

After serving as European Commission President, Mr Delors founded think tanks with the aim of furthering European federalism, and in recent years warned of the dangers of populism in Europe, also calling for "audacity" in dealing with the Brexit fallout.

He also urged more solidarity among EU members during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was a Socialist and before becoming the commission's president had a high-profile political career in France, where he served as finance minister under president Francois Mitterrand from 1981 to 1984.

President Macron of France was among the first to pay tribute today, praising Mr Delors for his vision of a closer Europe.

“His commitment, his ideals and his righteousness will always inspire us. I salute his work and his memory and share the pain of his loved ones," he wrote on social media.

President of the European Council Charles Michel said Mr Delors was a "great Frenchman and a great European" who had "entered history as one of the builders of our Europe".

Writing on X this evening Edinburgh-based European expert Dr Kirsty Hughes noted Mr Delors's significant influence.

She said: "Jacques Delors, such a big EU figure and hugely influential European Commission president."