It is goodbye to Josep Borrell. The outgoing President of the European Parliament said his farewells as the organisation welcomed 53 deputies from the EU’s new members Bulgaria and Romania to their first plenary session in Brussels. “It has been an honour to preside over the European Parliament. I thank all of you for your confidence in me and I wish success to whoever comes after me,” he told the chamber.
Borrell, a socialist, is standing down after two and a half years due to a leadership deal struck with the conservative European People’s Party. The EPP will take over the presidency for the rest of the five year term, until new elections in 2009.
Hans Gert Poettering, a veteran eurocrat and close ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, is the EPP’s sole candidate for the role. Experts say his links with Merkel may help him fulfil his pledge to help the parliament have a role in re-launched talks for the EU constitution. Elections for the new President as well as 14 vice-presidents and other officials will take place today.