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May 13, 2008
Bonde's last speech in the Parliament
Last Thursday, 8 May, Mr. Jens-Peter Bonde officially withdrew from his MEP seat in the Parliament and allowed Hanne Dahl to replace him. His position as ID Group Co-President will be taken by Kathy Sinnott, Irish MEP who is a fervent campaigner against the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland. Bonde's departing words at his reception yesterday and in the Bruxelles hemicycle today spoke of his achievements in the fight for democracy and transparency.
'May I thank all of you for good battles on constitutions and referendums and good cooperation in our joint fight for transparency' was something he transmitted to all MEPs, no matter the group. Jens-Peter talked at length about how the EP changed in the past 29 years and how he himself has changed with it. With a motto such as 'constructive criticism often leads to results', Mr. Bonde indeed has a lot of results to present.
'When I started as rapporteur for the Parliament's budget all group leaders were on the front line of cheating [...] Nowadays group leaders are on the front line of cleaning the house even if we have had a set-back on members' assistants' was a comparison he made. Then he proceeded to note the speed of the progress the camp of democracy made in the EP.
'It took Santer 4 years to deliver the internal telephone book which was secret until then. It took Prodi 4 years to deliver the full agendas and minutes of Commission meetings. It took Barroso one day to deliver a list of 3.094 secret working groups in the Commission - and over 4 years to deliver the names of the advisors.' He acknowledged the need to cooperate for this purpose - no one can change the system for the better alone: 'Such victories were only possible because we cooperated across political lines. In the Convention I had the signatures of 23 governments, every single MP and every MEP except one, for a very simple proposal to turn the procedure on transparency'.
The work to be done however is far from over. As could be seen from his Political Testament, there are many other changes to be done to the EU system and to the Union as a whole. In yesterday's speech he noted the two most important points: 'All European laws have to be decided by a majority in the Parliament and secret legislation by civil servants and lobbyists must stop. All meetings and documents have to be open and transparent unless we decide on derogation. '
The way he has changed himself along with the events was also mentioned: 'When I looked at the EU from the outside I became very critical towards the leaders. When I saw the systems from the inside I realized that even the best Commission presidents are governed by their services. They are much nicer than they behave. After 37 years of being critical of the EU, I have become more critical towards the structures and more friendly towards the persons in the system.'
This could be mirrored by his cooperation with some of his political enemies on various projects. Mr. Bonde has published books with Bronis?aw Geremek, Jacques Santer, Romano Prodi, Elmar Brok, and Leo Tindermans, as well writing a draft constitution together with Fernand Heman and a newer draft with David Martin.
The list of Mr. Bonde's activities is along and thorough one. During his years in the Parliament he has touched subjects ranging from cultural diversity to environmental protection, from human rights in Turkey to the breaking the secrecy of the European Commission.
In the end of his speech, before saying farewell, Jens-Peter Bonde pointed out another element concerning the work that is done in the EP: 'Most MEPs work with ideas. It is less known that we also assist human beings. I was just kindly reminded of this by a mother-in-law of a student leader from Chile whom we helped out of his death cell'.
His final words to his colleagues in the Parliament were: 'Please, safeguard that all European laws have to pass through this parliament by a public vote. Thank You, colleagues, for 29 years in our joint assembly. Og tak til de danske v'lgere, som gjorde det muligt.'
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