Foreign Affairs

Welcoming remarks by Professor Jerzy Buzek President of the European Parliament on the occasion of the visit of Vice President Joe Biden

Brussels -
Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mr Vice President,
Dear Colleagues,
Dear Friends,

It is a great privilege for me to welcome to the European Parliament Mr Joseph Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States.

Vice President Biden has been a key figure in American politics and a friend to colleagues in this Chamber for many years. He was first elected to the US Senate in 1972, serving as one of the youngest senators in his country's history. He was elected six times before becoming Vice President of the United States in November 2008.

A former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is known to speak his mind, sometimes to defend causes which are far from popular at the time. He leads opinion; he does not follow opinion. This is one reason why your speech at the European Parliament today, Mr Vice President, is so important, so crucial, for all of us. Let me thank you once again for the very warm invitation and the very constructive and fruitful discussions last Wednesday in Washington.

Dear colleagues, in today's multilateral, multipolar world, Europe and America can and should work together in a partnership for global stability and the enlightened values in which we believe. Vice President Biden's visit to the European Union today demonstrates this commitment.

Without a strong and effective transatlantic partnership as equal partners - the United States and the European Union - we cannot find lasting solutions to the many challenges we face: climate change, energy security, the economic crisis still hitting all of us, terrorism, or promoting human rights, defending free trade and improving global governance.

Colleagues, 25 years ago, almost to the day, President Ronald Reagan addressed this Parliament, on 8 May 1985. This was the last and so far the only time that a US President has spoken to the democratically elected representatives of the people of Europe. Your presence in this Chamber today, Mr Vice President, is a symbol of the renewal of that dialogue at the highest level between our two continents.

Here in Europe we have a new Treaty, which gives us in the European Parliament new strength and the possibility to act and which is so important for the whole of the European Union. In America, after one year under President Obama's leadership, there is new hope for the world. Mr Vice President, the timing of your address could not be better.

Mr Vice President,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you here this afternoon to Europe's Parliament. The floor is yours.

*** After Vice-President Biden's speech ***

Mr Vice President,

Thank you very much. It was a great basis for future cooperation and our future talks. As you said, listen and talk to each other. That is very important.

I would like to thank you for repeating the most important words from last week: Europe needs America. We remember the 20th century - the First World War, the Second World War, the Iron Curtain - we were fighting side by side, achieving victory together, as democracies. As you added today, America needs Europe. We will remember that. It is a good beginning to our partnership and cooperation.

Mr Vice President, once again, thank you very much.