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Members of the European Parliament engaged in some mutual back-slapping at their final session this week before an election next month.
“Nowadays very few decisions are taken in the European Union without the express consent and participation of the European Parliament,” said the parliament’s president, Hans-Gert Poettering.
“Increasingly, the European Parliament has become the fulcrum of political compromise at European level,” he said, reeling off a long list of laws passed in the assembly’s five-year term.
Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the chamber, hailed Poettering’s work: ”Today, I think that I can speak for many when I say that you have earned our respect and affection.”
To many of the hundreds of defence experts, heads of state, ministers and journalists at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was the keenly awaited highlight of the three-day gathering in Bavaria. Biden, on his first trip to Europe in his new role, was expected to lay out the foreign policy priorities of President Barack Obama’s administration to European allies, including Washington’s future policy on Afghanistan and Iran.
But well before Biden took the stage in the plush Munich hotel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the audience that he, at least, was already in the know about Biden’s speech. As Biden watched on from the front row, Sarkozy deviated from his speech on France’s policies towards NATO and the defence priorities of the European Union, and said with a smirk: ”I already know what the vice-president will say … because he sent me his manuscript in advance. “That’s part of good management,” Sarkozy said to loud laughter from the audience. Biden smiled, listening to Sarkozy’s comments over headphones through a translator.