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Opening of new European Parliament

Yes, you. You decided. By voting.

By voting in EP elections, you choose who influences your future and the daily life of close to 500 million fellow Europeans. If you don’t bother, somebody else will - and decide who represents you at the only directly elected Pan-European assembly. Elected MEPs shape the future of Europe for 5 upcoming years. Get the Europe you want!

Your MEP is your voice in Europe - why would you let it go to waste? Elected every five years, the European Parliament is a major and powerful player in European Union decision-making. Its votes shape final EU legislation that influences our everyday life including the future of European Research.

The ‘Gateway to Vision Research’ contacted MEPs from all member states on May 4th and May 5th 2009. We forwarded three questions in relation to the future of research and more specifically blindness and visual impairment in Europe.

Jerzy Buzek elected President of the European Parliament

Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament
Jerzy Buzek

MEPs elected Jerzy Buzek to be the new European Parliament President with 555 votes in favour (or 86.18 per cent of the valid votes). He was elected after the first-round of voting. The 69-year-old Polish MEP will lead the European Parliament for two and a half years (until January 2012). President Buzek is the first President of the European Parliament to come from Central and Eastern Europe following the EU's enlargement in 2004. Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Poland) replaces the outgoing President Hans-Gert Pöttering (EPP, Germany).

In a brief address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg immediately after the vote, Mr Buzek described his election as "an enormous challenge and a great honour".  Referring to the message of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", championed by the French Revolution whose anniversary is commemorated today in France's national day, the newly elected president said "all three of those words ring out in the European Union" today.

Once his ambition had been to be a member of parliament in a free Poland, but now he was President of the European Parliament.  He saw this as "a measure of how Europe can change".  He also regarded it as "symbolic" for the other central and eastern European countries who joined the EU in 2004 and as "a tribute to the millions of people who didn't bow to a hostile system".  "There is now no 'you' and 'us': we live in a shared Europe", he said.

Looking ahead to the challenges facing the EU, such as unemployment, energy security and climate change, Mr Buzek stressed that "we first need the Lisbon Treaty so that the Union can be well-organised and effective".  He concluded by paying tribute to his predecessor as EP President, Mr Pöttering.

Mr Buzek will give a more detailed description of the work programme he intends to pursue over the next two and a half years during the 14-17 September plenary session in Strasbourg.

Inaugural speech by Jerzy

Read the inaugural speech by Jerzy Buzek following his election as President of the European Parliament.