Thursday

18th Jan 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Commission and council dig in on GMO opt-outs

The European Commission and the EU's national governments pass each other the buck on who should move first on a heavily-criticised proposal on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision

The European Central Bank refused to provide important evidence when the Court of Auditors examined its management of the banking crisis. A court report said the system was substantial but had "flaws".

News in Brief

  1. Catalan parliament elects separatist speaker
  2. Czech government resigns
  3. MEPs back tighter export rules on cyber tech
  4. Annual eurozone inflation at 1.4 percent in December
  5. EPP group calls for 'European Netflix'
  6. Ex-MEP Goulard slated for senior French bank post
  7. Luxembourg speaks out in support of Palestinian state
  8. Danish fishing communities to be hit hard by Brexit, says report

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other Border Regions on How Countries Can Work Together to Generate Growth
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  4. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  5. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  8. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  9. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  10. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  11. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  12. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties