He was the best economist in France, according to former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who gave him the post of Prime Minister in 1976.
Raymond Barre, who has died in Paris aged 83, remained in the job until 1981 when Francois Mitterand led the Socialists to power.
He joined the cabinet in 1976 as foreign Trade Minister, then becoming Prime Minister, replacing Jacques Chirac.
But Barre’s policies did not make him popular with the people after he enforced a tough anti-inflation plan, which slashed living standards and cut thousands of jobs in coal and steel.
Barre was born in the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion in 1924, later moving to France to study.
He graduated in 1950 having passed the Aggregation, France’s highest academic examination
and seemed set for a career as an economics professor. He could easily have spent his life in academia.
But in 1967 he moved to Brussels to become Vice President of the European Commission, drawing up the first proposal for European monetary cooperation.
In 1995 he became Mayor of Lyon, serving in the post until 2001.
Unusually for such a successful politician, Raymond Barre was never a member or leader of a political party.
Raymond Barre had been ill for a long time and entered hospital in April to receive treatment for a heart condition.