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Simone Veil: European Parliament recalls its first female president. She survived Nazi camps and served several times as minister in France


(Brussels) The European Parliament “pays tribute to Simone Veil, the great president” of the European Parliament, “conscience of the EU”, who campaigned “against anti-Semitism” and for “women’s rights”. She passed away at the age of 89. She was a French Jew who at the age of 16 was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps (where she lost her parents and a brother). She went on to become a magistrate, high officer in the French administration, and served many times as a minister. The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, said: “May her example inspire our fellow citizens”. She was health minister in the conservative government of Prime Minister Jacques Chirac (the first woman in France to become minister), and fought for the liberalization of abortion. In 1979, she was elected a MEP and then served as president of the first EU Assembly to be elected by direct universal suffrage, until 1982. She then remained in Brussels and Strasbourg for several more years, becoming the leader of the Liberal and Democratic Group. In 1993, she left the European Parliament to return to France where she served as health minister in the government of Edouard Balladur. She was president of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, and a member of the French Academy. Until the very end, she has acted as the “critical conscience”, although on moderate positions, of both European and French policy. The European Parliament has recently named after her the square in front of its headquarters in Brussels.

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