- The European Parliament: 70 years of European democracy in action
- 70 years’ presence in Strasbourg
Since 1952, Strasbourg has been home to the European Parliament and the venue of its monthly plenary sessions. Establishing Parliament’s official seat in the capital city of Alsace, which prides itself on its long-standing European vocation, is seen as recognition of its standing and underlines the importance of the Franco-German reconciliation and the cessation of the armed conflicts that bloodied the European continent for so long.
However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Member States decided to make Strasbourg the European Parliament’s official seat. To give the decision greater force, it was written into the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, thus officially confirming Strasbourg’s role as the parliamentary capital of Europe.
The increase in Parliament’s powers has had a significant impact on Alsace’s principal city, in particular because it has enhanced its visibility on the European and international scene. Indeed, thanks to Parliament, the whole world has gradually been drawn to Strasbourg: for 70 years, the assembly has acted as a sounding board on the international political situation. The official visits by Heads of State are as much an opportunity to attract attention from the media as to raise public awareness of the role and purpose of this unique institution in the world.
Since 1999, the Louise Weiss building, home to Europe’s largest debating chamber, has been the embodiment of Parliament’s presence in Strasbourg. Entirely plated in glass and standing on the banks of the river Ill, the building is now part of Strasbourg’s architectural landscape. It is the physical expression of an open and transparent democracy. The top of the building, which still looks unfinished, symbolises the ongoing nature of the European project. The new building’s tower stands directly in line with Strasbourg Cathedral, as if in conversation with this striking monument, which is also part of the city’s historical identity.