European Parliament put Simone Veil and Solidarnosc in the spotlight

Plazas and European Parliament buildings are named after famous European politicians. Thus, on 30 August, Brussels plaza will be called “Solidarity 1980″ and the circular space in front of the entrance will be called “Agora Simone Veil.”

The ceremony begins at 1200 CET in front of the EP’s main building in Brussels and is open to the public. Read on to find out more about Simone Veil and Solidarność, which is known as Solidarity in English.

Simone Veil: witness, fighter for women’s rights, convinced European

Ms Veil was born in 1927 to a Jewish family in Nice, France. With her family, she was arrested by the Nazis in 1944 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then Bobrek and finally Bergen-Belsen. Her parents and brother died in the concentration camps.

She became France’s Minister of Health in 1974 and is most famous for leading the legalisation of abortion in 1975. Between1979-1982 she presided over the first directly-elected European Parliament and remained an MEP until 1993, when she returned to French politics.

Ms Veil was elected to the “Académie Française” in 2008 and remains enormously popular in France.

Solidarność, a milestone in Europe’s recent history

Solidarność transformed Poland after its creation in 1980 in the Gdańsk shipyards, leading to the collapse of the communist regime in 1989. It still operates in Poland as a trade union and remains an inspiration to people fighting for democracy.

It was formed after workers came together to demand rights including independent trade unions, the right to strike, freedom of speech and the release of political prisoners. The authorities agreed to the demands and the accords were signed in August 1980. Membership of the movement reached 9.5 million in September 1981, accounting for a third of the working population.

However, amid fears about Solidarność’s growing influence in other communist bloc countries, the Soviet regime introduced martial law in Poland on 13 December, 1981, banning Solidarność and arresting its leaders. The movement went “underground”, surviving the regime and going on to play a crucial role in the transformation negotiations. It took part in the first free elections in 1989 and Mr Walesa become the first democratically-elected president of Poland in 1990.

1235: unveiling of plaques
1245-1310: video clips, folk dance, songs
2000: rock concert by Polish band Myslovitz
1200: European Anthem
1205-1235: speeches (Jerzy Buzek, Polish PM Donald Tusk, Lech Wałęsa, former Dutch PM Wim Kok, former EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering, French minister Jean Leonetti, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Belgian PM Yves Leterme)

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