He was born at Courbevoie (Hauts-de-Seine). He entered politics as a student leader whilst studying at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration. A finance inspector (senior official) and anti-colonialist, he went to Algeria and wrote a report regarding the widely unknown refugee camps. This report was leaked to the newspapers Le Monde and France Observateur in April 1959, almost costing Rocard his job.
Under Mitterand's first presidency, he was Minister of Regional and Economical Planning from 1981 to 1983 and Agriculture Minister from 1983 to 1985. After Mitterand's re-election, he was Prime Minister (1988-1991) and lead the Matignon Accords regarding the status of New Caledonia.
He is now a Member of the European Parliament.
See also: List of Prime Ministers of France