European Parliament President Josep Borrell hailed on Monday the increasingly important role the legislature has been playing in the European Union (EU)'s decision making.
In his farewell speech to the house as president, Borrell said the parliament was better known and more widely recognized today than ever before, and EU legislators had fulfilled more responsibilities in both internal and external affairs.
Speaking at the first plenary session of the European Parliament this year, the Spanish socialist said the lawmakers had backed the EU Constitutional Treaty and now wished to be involved in efforts to find a solution to the constitution "crisis."
Borrell said the German EU presidency, which has made a revival of efforts to save the EU constitution one of the priorities of its tenure in the next six months, has said it will ask the parliament to designate a representative for this task, alongside the EU's executive European Commission and the EU member states.
Delivering a wide-ranging review of his tenure in the last two and half years, Borrell said the parliament had shown "political maturity" in rejecting certain proposals in 2004 regarding the nomination of commissioners it saw as inappropriate, thus showing "it is not a paper tiger."
Borrell highlighted EU lawmakers' key role in the legislative front, naming a few issues like the rejection of the software patents directive, and the approval of the services directive and the far-reaching REACH chemicals regulation.
The lawmakers had also taken the initiative on various issues, including setting up committees to investigate alleged abductions on European soil by United States secret services and the financial disaster following the collapse of the Equitable Life insurance company in Britain.
The European Parliament had sent election observers to 26 countries, including Ukraine, Palestine, Afghanistan, Congo and Venezuela, Borrell said.
At the beginning of Monday's session, Borrell formally welcomed the 18 new EU legislators from Bulgaria and the 35 deputies from Romania. The new members brought the total number of EU lawmakers to 785.