EU parliament pays tribute to ex-president Simone Veil
The European Parliament on Monday honoured Simone Veil, a women’s rights icon who served as the body’s first elected president in 1979, with lawmakers observing a minute’s silence.
Veil died at her home in France on Friday at age 89.
Current EU parliament president Antonio Tajani described her as “one of the great figures of our time, who marked the history of Europe and made a notable contribution to the development of our parliament”.
Meanwhile French lawmakers, gathered at the Versailles palace on Monday to hear a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron, also paid tribute to Veil with a minute’s silence.
After surviving Auschwitz, Veil went on to become one of France’s most respected politicians, serving as health minister under president Valery Giscard d’Estaing.
Veil’s standout achievement as a politician came when she shepherded a 1974 abortion law through parliament after a 25-hour debate during which she endured a torrent of abuse, with some lawmakers likening pregnancy terminations to the Holocaust.
The legislation — named the “Loi Veil” (Veil Law) — is today considered a cornerstone of women’s rights and secularism in France.
After a second term as health minister under Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, Veil last held major public office between 1998 and 2007, when she was a member of France’s Constitutional Council.
She served as EU Parliament president for three years.
A second tribute is planned for Tuesday, Tajani said.
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