Central European head of EP will end Europe's division: Buzek

Poland, July 14, 2009 (AFP) - The election of a Central European as head the European Parliament would end the division between old and new European Union states, Jerzy Buzek, Poland's ex-prime minister and shoo-in for the job said Tuesday.

The European Parliament will vote Tuesday on the successor to German Christian-Democrat Hans-Gert Pöttering, the current president of the European Union's only directly-elected legislative chamber.

"If the Tuesday vote results in my success, I believe the division between the old and new members of the EU will disappear," Buzek said in an interview published Tuesday by Poland's Polska daily.

"In the past, the Iron Curtain separated the old and the new. It is less visible today, but the division between the new and those who have been in the EU a long time, still exists," Buzek said.

Poland was the largest of 10 mostly ex-communist states to have joined the 15 older EU member states in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania joined the bloc in 2007 raising the EU's membership to 27.

"We want this division to disappear. And it will disappear," he said.

The most pressing issues the European Parliament must address include overcoming the economic crisis, energy security, migration as well as the demographic crisis, Buzek said.

Ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty focused on reforming the EU is also a top priority, he said.

The EU also needs a strategic agreement with the United States in response to competition from growing Asian economies.

"I think it is necessary to conclude an agreement between the United States and the European Union because the world has changed and the former rivalries between the US and the EU are no longer needed -- it is harmful," Buzek said.

"Together we could become a strong partner for countries in the Far East: India, Japan, or China," he said.

Jerzy Buzek, a 69-year-old liberal is the candidate of the European Peoples' Party, also supported by the socialists and liberals.

Source: AFP

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