The European Parliament’s outgoing president Josep Borrell has given the last speech of his mandate, at the same time officially welcoming the latest members. He planted the flags of Romania and Bulgaria in the hemicycle in Strasbourg. There are now 785 euro-MPs.
The Spanish Socialist has been the chairman of the European Union’s only directly-elected assembly for two and a half years now. He said: (In that time) “I believe there is a large consensus which has confirmed the growing importance of the European Parliament’s role. It is better-known than ever today for the work it does.” Borell did not simply end ceremonially, but with a political act. Before his farewell address he asked the members to observe a minute of silence for the latest victims of the Basque separatist group ETA.