PRIO and the French Cultural Centre organized a seminar with Simone Veil. The seminar is the 5th in the series Independence of the Mind. The Simone Veil seminar attracted an audience of around 450 in the University Aula.
Simone Veil is a veteran French politician, born in Nice in 1927. In 1944 she was arrested together with her family by the Gestapo and deported to Auschwitz Birkenau where she spent 13 months. After her liberation she took up her studies, earning degrees in law and politics, finaly choosing a positing as a magistrate. Specialising in penal administration she contributed to a number of judicial reforms, contributing the law on child adoption in 1966. In 1970 she became the first woman Secretary of the Council of Magistrates. From 1974 to 1979 she served as Minister of Health under French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. She is perhaps best-known in France for her work toward the legalization of abortion, with a doubt her hardest political fight. A fervent European, Simone Veil headed the list of UDF (Union for the French Democracy) for the first European elections in 1979. After having served in the European Parliament in 1979, 1984 and 1989, she became its first popularly elected president. During her mandate, she contributed to bringing the European Parliament to the European public consciousness. She defends her federalist and supranational vision of Europe. She insists on the stakes in the peace, the liberty, the well-being for the peoples of Europe. After her departure from the European Presidency, Veil became head of the European Legal Office. Then, after many years in the European Parliament, she returned to French government from 1993 – 1995 when she was Minister of State for Social Affairs in the government of Edouard Balladur. In 1996, she participated in the proceedings of the International Commission on the Balkans and from 1997 to 1998 she served as Chairwoman for the High Council on Integration. Simultaneously, Simone Veil has supported various associations with European vocation, such as the European Fund for the Freedom of Expression and the European Foundation for Sciences and Culture, of which she acts as honorary chairwoman. She has served since February 1998 as member of the Constitutional Council. In 2001 Simone Veil became chairwoman for the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah whose the primary goal is to support research on the Shoah. Simone Veil is an energetic and fighting woman whose direct witness of the past has made her deeply committed to the future. She never ceases to remind us through her public interventions of her struggle for the inherent dignity and the inalienable rights of the human being. As a convinced European; Simon Veil chose to step down in Mai 2005, in order to defend the “yes” in the referendum on the European Constitution.