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European Parliament Turns 50!

  • March 27th, 2008
  • Posted by Emma Cillekens

eu-parliament.jpgLast week (19.3.08) the European Parliament blew out 50 candles.

It celebrated the occasion in style on the 12.3.08 at a special sitting of the Parliament in Strasbourg.

President of the EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering addressed guests on the day of celebrations, stressing the progress of the Parliament since its beginnings.

“Step by step, the European Parliament has fought to secure more and more rights and has become ever more aware of its responsibility and of what it can do; and today it does credit to its name,” he said.

Amid the talks and gatherings there were also performances from the European Youth Orchestra throughout the day.

At the event the President of the Parliament talked about the Treaty of Lisbon and its importance to members of the EU.

“The Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter of Fundamental Rights will make a decisive contribution towards making democracy and parliamentarianism in the European Union a reality at all levels. We can be proud of our consistent support for the Reform Treaty and for the Charter of Fundamental Rights,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance of cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments, saying “we must endeavor, in future, to maintain that cooperation”.
A Little History

Fifty years ago on 19.4.58 it was founded to allow more democratic input to EU decision making.

Originally known as the European Parliamentary Assembly, it was renamed four years later (1962) to become, as today- The European Parliament.

In the beginning, it consisted of 142 members appointed from six countries as  delegates from their national legislatures.

Today it consists of 785 MEPs elected in direct universal suffrage and representing the 27 Member States of the European Union. This number will be reduced to 750 members plus the President once the Treaty of Lisbon currently in the process of ratification takes effect.

The Parliament is both a legislative and a budgetary authority, on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers. According to the Parliament website it exercises oversight of the European Commission and elects its President.

The Parliament represents close to 500 million EU citizens, declaring that it reflects all political tendencies in the European Union, as a major player in European politics

The European Parliament is the only multinational parliament elected in the world.

Bulgaria Ratifies the Treaty of Lisbon

Meantime, Bulgaria, one of the EU’s most recent member states, became the sixth country to ratify the EU’s Lisbon treaty (21.3.08).

The document, which was signed in 2007, was supported by all Government coalition parties and most opposition parties.

The Treaty of Lisbon is scheduled to be ratified by all Member States by the end of 2008, in time for European elections in 2009.

The document, (also known as the reform treaty) aims to revitalise the bloc’s institutions and improve decision making efficiency.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed Sofia’s ratification of the treaty.

“I appreciate the commitment given to early approval of the treaty by both the Bulgarian Government and Parliament,” he said.

Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania and France have also ratified the document.

Reference:

The EU Parliament’s 50 year. http://euobserver.com/9/25815?rss_rk=1 (11.3.08)

European Parliament “50th anniversary of the European Parliament celebrated in Strasbourg” http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/008-23718-070-03-11-901-20080311IPR23707-10-03-2008-2008-true/default_en.htm (12.3.08)

European Commission,”Lisbon Treaty” http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/index_en.htm, (25.3.08)

European Council – Slovenian Presidency. “Slovenian Presidency welcomes ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Bulgaria” http://www.eu2008.si/en/News_and_Documents/Press_Releases /March/0321MZZbulgaria.html (21.3.08)
USA Today. “European Parliament Turns 50 today” http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-03-11-eu-parliament_N.htm#uslPageReturn (12.3.08)

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