Monday

4th Mar 2024

Buzek election hailed as 'historic'

Polish centre-right MEP Jerzy Buzek was elected as president of the European parliament on Tuesday (14 July) following a secret ballot held in a packed Strasbourg plenary chamber.

The election of a deputy from a former communist country which joined the European Union just five years ago was hailed by politicians across the political divide as an historic event.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking of how he once dreamed of a Poland free from communism, Mr Buzek said: "Today I have been elected president of the European parliament, that's a sign of how things can change."

"I wish to work with all of you regardless of your political beliefs," he told MEPs, adding that climate change, the economic crisis, and bringing citizens closer to the European project would be among his main priorities.

Mr Buzek – a scientist by training - was elected to the EU Parliament in 2004 and subsequently served on the industry, energy and research committees.

Between 1997-2001 he served as Polish prime minister and was greatly involved in steering the country towards joining the EU.

His membership of the Solidarity movement that overthrew communism in the country in the 1980s was also singled out for much praise by MEPs aware of the symbolic importance Mr Buzek's election.

"We Poles know that even the unthinkable can be possible if you really want it," former commissioner Danuta Hubner who was recently elected as an MEP told EUobserver.

Asked how she was handling the changeover to her new job, she said so far there seemed to be far more waiting around involved. "I hope that will change," she added.

Pre-decided result

After the vote that saw Mr Buzek win 555 of the 644 valid votes cast, party leaders signalled their broad support for the new president.

"Every member of the parliament will be delighted that the parliament is no longer split between east and west," said leader of the centre-right European Peoples' Party Joseph Daul, to which Mr Buzek belongs.

"I feel that your election of the European parliament is a historical moment, it is 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall," said Socialist leader Martin Schulz whose party is the second largest in the parliament.

In a press conference before the vote, co-president of the Greens, Mr Daniel Cohn-Bendit, also said he supported Mr Buzek as the new president, but on an individual basis rather than because of any party political agreement.

A recent three-way deal struck between the Socialists, the EPP and the Liberals whereby Mr Buzek would take the post for the first 2.5 years of the 5-year term, followed by Mr Schulz for the second 2.5 years meant Tuesday's vote was little more than a formality.

The only other candidate who ran for the post of president was far-left Swedish MEP Eva- Britt Svensson who won 89 votes. Former Liberal leader Graham Watson pulled out last week as a result of the three-way deal.

Over attendance?

The pre-determined nature of the vote threatened to leave the atmosphere in the chamber a little flat but an extra buzz was generated when a loud noise emanated from the chamber's ceiling shortly before the vote was due to take place, startling MEPs.

Outgoing parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering later informed the chamber that the noise came from the room's ventilators who were struggling to deal with the higher than normal attendance at the monthly meeting.

The announcement was met by robust applause by MEPs who are frequently criticised over their poor attendance records.

However the loudest clapping was reserved for Mr Poettering as he handed over the reins to Mr Buzek.

"On behalf of all our colleagues, I would like to thank you for the respect you have won our house and for your political style," said Mr Buzek, presenting Mr Poettering with a statue of St Barbara – the patron saint of miners - made out of coal from his region of Poland.

Interview

Buzek: Speed up EU lawmaking, but not at cost of democracy

In office for another month, European Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek looks back at the highs and lows of his mandate and advises his successor to reach out to citizens and speed up lawmaking, but not at the expense of democracy.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us