On Tuesday, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola delivered a speech to the House to commemorate the death of former President José María Gil-Robles.
Speaking at Parliament’s plenary sitting in Strasbourg, President Metsola said:
It is my sad duty to inform you of the death yesterday, Monday, of José María Gil-Robles, who was President of the European Parliament from 1997 to 1999 and who was an eminent Member of this House for fifteen years.
President Gil-Robles was a Spanish politician, a member of the Spanish People’s Party and the European People’s Party, who served in many capacities during his parliamentary terms and was rapporteur for a number of institutional reforms.
He will be remembered for having ensured that Parliament was directly involved in the negotiation of the Treaty of Amsterdam, including the inclusion of the legal basis for the adoption of the Members’ Statute, thanks to which Parliament became more independent.
It was during his presidency that Parliament contributed to the decisions relating to the entry into force of the euro and to the start of the accession negotiations for ten new Member States. He also led this House through the difficult months preceding the resignation of the European Commission, a crisis from which this institution emerged stronger.
This House mourns him and pays tribute to his legacy. I ask you now to please observe a minute of silence in his memory.”
Born in Madrid in 1935, Gil-Robles was an MEP for three consecutive terms, from 1989 to 2004. A Member of the EPP, he sat in the Constitutional Affairs, Legal Affairs, Social Affairs and Petitions committees, among others. He chaired the Committee on Institutional Affairs (1993-1994) and the Delegation to the EU-Bulgaria Joint Parliamentary Committee (2002-2004).
While EP President (1997-1999), Gil-Robles took part in key moments in European history, such as the negotiations that would lead to the Treaty of Amsterdam, the approval of the launch of the euro and the appointment of the first president of the European Central Bank. He also presided over the en bloc resignation of the Commission led by Jacques Santer, as well as the launch of the EU Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) and the efforts of the European Union to prevent genocide in Kosovo.
A law professor, after his years in the European Parliament, Gil-Robles occupied the honorary chairmanship of the European Movement International. Between 2008 and 2015, he chaired the Jean Monnet Foundation.