“Henk Folmer and I first encountered Jos when we served together on a European Commission task force focused on understanding the relationship between the European Single Market and the environment. His ability to organise, to draw coherence from chaos and his dedication to embedding economics ideas in the decision-making system were apparent then. As he successfully progressed up the Commission’s slippery career pole, a consistent strand of his work has been to inject economics ideas into the environmental policy arena. It’s not easy. Camus observed that ‘we’re all special cases.’ And most of the special interest constituencies that attempt to shape EU policy don’t see the economic argument as central, and many regard it as inimical to their interest. And so keeping a regard for benefits and costs, for mobilising markets to protect the environment rather than the converse, for making economic efficiency and integration of environment and economy central rather than incidental, involves in the first instance fighting the case with the other services of the Commission, then getting the Member States and the European Parliament to buy into the idea, creating coalitions of interest to move an agenda forward in ways that are consistent with economic principles. We need his unique talents, because Europe faces a huge challenge in competing in the global economy, and so the environment also faces a challenge, since many see the choice as a trade-off – less conservation means more competitiveness. Achieving mutuality of interest requires advocacy of a high order from the Commission.”

– Frank Convery, Ireland

“Jos Delbeke epitomises the concept of excellence in the implementation of environmental economics ideas in the real – and sometimes harsh World of politics. He has an excellent network of economists across Europe, and is good at using economics research to support his arguments and positions. The development and enactment of the Emissions Trading Directive is largely his achievement as is the introduction of flexible mechanisms in general. Without his influence, EU environmental policy would be much less efficient than it is and much more marked by the old-fashioned command and control ideology that dominated early periods in EU policy making.”

– Thomas Sterner, Sweden

“Jos Delbeke seems cast from the same mould as the great Dutch sea captains from long ago. His steady hand on the tiller, acute eye for the winds of change and skilful trimming of sails have piloted the ECCP safely through some dangerous shoals over the last several stormy years. In time, the safe delivery of the ETS may well come to be considered as one of the most significant events in the history of practical application of political economy.”

– Pat Finnegan, Ireland


“Jos Delbeke’s name is more closely associated with the reform of EU environmental policy than that of any other official in the EU. Through his pivotal role in the European Commission’s Task Force on the environmental dimension of the internal market in the late 1980s, he helped to lay the theoretical and political foundations for market-based instruments in the EU. He later designed the EU’s CO2 emissions trading scheme and expertly steered the landmark legislation through all political storms. This first multilateral GHG emissions trading scheme may in the end become the benchmark for similar schemes if not the international standard.”

– Christian Egenhofer, Belgium

“Jos Delbeke is the ‘safe pair of hands’ for tackling the most difficult and sensitive environmental issues for the Commission. His promotion reflects the need for his considerable skills to be applied across a wider range of policy issues. I first came across Jos in 1992, when he was draftsman for the first CO2/energy tax proposal. As a representative then of a major oil company, I found this a very engaging policy relationship!

As an economist, Jos was the ideal person to lead the DG ENV approach to Sustainable Development, and I was able to observe his efforts (and Frank Convery’s) in this through the work of the Consultative Forum. More recently I have been a close observer of Jos’ major success in ‘selling’ emissions trading as a flexible tool to tackle climate change, to help deliver environmental transparency and effectiveness, at the same time as minimising economic and, hopefully, competitiveness impact of showing EU leadship on climate change.”

– Michael Wriglesworth, Belgium

“It has been simply great to work with Jos. He is sometimes called a slave driver — although working as a slave in the Commission is a contradiction in terms — but one person’s slave driver is another person’s determined, focussed, hard working professional. He not only asks his colleagues to perform (forgetting to mention “again”) miracles but he also lives by example, and produces them, too. His greatest quality is that while working hard, he also knows how to motivate staff. In sum, applied environmental economics can actually be fun. I started to work with Jos in 1998 to carry out the economic analysis of EU-wide emission trading and moved on to work on atmospheric pollution in his team. It was great to be part of the team to produce one miracle (EU-wide emissions trading in greenhouse gases). And if you believe in fairies or Jos, expect a couple of miracles more… “

– Matti Vainio, Belgium

“Carbon taxes may be important unfinished business for the world, but Jos Delbeke’s 1990 success in producing an EC level proposal made it become the world’s business.”

– John Fitz Gerald, Ireland
– Sue Scott, Ireland

“As an observer from afar, I cannot help but be impressed by the adroit mix of economic principle and political pragmatism that Jos Delbeke employs. It is the more impressive for being such a thankless task: his economist friends deplore the pragmatism and his political colleagues ridicule the principle. It is however what the world needs and if there were a Nobel Prize for Civil Service, Jos would be a certain nominee. There being so such prize, Jos richly deserves the recognition this award conveys.”

– Denny Ellerman, USA

“Jos Delbeke has been able to shape the course of the European Commission towards sustainable development. EARE has made an excellent choice.”

– Raimund Bleischwitz, Germany