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European Parliament to honour Simone Veil, women’s rights campaigner and first directly-elected President of the EP in 1979

[European Parliament, Brussels, 25 August 2011] On Tuesday 30 August the European Parliament will honour two giants of post-war Europe, with the inauguration in Brussels of the "Solidarno?? 1980 Esplanade" and the "Simone Veil Agora". Ms Veil, the first president of the directly-elected EP in 1979, will be present as will Solidarno?? founder Lech Wa??sa and current EP President Jerzy Buzek, who was also part of the Polish workers movement.

Parliament has long had a tradition of naming its buildings and esplanades after important Europeans. The ceremony begins at 1200 CET in front of the EP’s main building in Brussels and is open to the public. Read on to find out more about Simone Veil and Solidarno??, which is known as Solidarity in English.

Simone Veil: witness, fighter for women’s rights, convinced European

Ms Veil was born in 1927 to a Jewish family in Nice, France. With her family, she was arrested by the Nazis in 1944 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then Bobrek and finally Bergen-Belsen. Her parents and brother died in the concentration comps.

She became France’s Minister of Health in 1974 and is most famous for leading the legalisation of abortion in 1975. Between1979-1982 she presided over the first directly-elected European Parliament and remained an MEP until 1993, when she returned to French politics.

Ms Veil was elected to the "Académie Française" in 2008 and remains enormously popular in France.


  • 1200: European Anthem
  • 1205-1235: speeches (Jerzy Buzek, Polish PM Donald Tusk, Lech Wa??sa, former Dutch PM Wim Kok, former EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering, French minister Jean Leonetti, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Belgian PM Yves Leterme)
  • 1235: unveiling of plaques
  • 1245-1310: video clips, folk dance, songs
  • 2000: rock concert by Polish band Myslovitz

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