French lawyer and politician Simone Veil (Niza, 1927), who won the Carlos V European Award in 2008, has died at her home in Paris at the age of 89. The President of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees, members of the Academy and the whole team at the European Academy of Yuste Foundation feel the enormous loss of this great person, politician, defender of women’s rights, and committed Europeanist, expressing deepest sympathies to her family and friends.
Veil received the award at a formal ceremony presided over by the King and Queen of Spain on 18 June at the Royal Monastery of Yuste. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament from 2007-2009, and Guillermo Fernánez Vara, President of the Regional Government of Extremadura attended the ceremony, along with diplomats, regional, national, and European politicians, ambassadors, and other personalities in European culture and thought.
The Award jury emphasised how the recipient was “an example of defending social issues, fighting spirit, and creativity in making and creating policy. A woman whose distinguishing quality clearly knowing the world of ideas, who was voted unanimously to receive the award in recognition of her courage and determination in particularly turbulent times”.
In her speech, Simone Veil, the first female president of the European Parliament, recalled the difficulties she encountered when setting up a Commission for Women’s Rights, whilst recognising that, paradoxically, this helped raise the profile of the institution and her work in many countries.
The winner of the Award, a holocaust survivor, recognised that she had never stopped fighting because discrimination against women had disappeared, although there was still much to do, because “women continue to be victims of inequality in the workplace, with the highest salaries almost inaccessible to them”, confirming that during her term she could see that her concept of power was different to that held by men.
In Simone Veil’s opinion, Europe should not isolate itself because the era of unanimous agreements had ended, defending the role of institutions and citizens to “overcome the challenges we face with all our efforts”.
Simone Veil returned to Yuste in July 2009 to open the doctoral seminar ‘Memories and places of European memory’ organised by the European Academy of Yuste Foundation, bringing together ten European doctoral students selected for research and mobility grants for European studies, Carlos V European Award – Simone Veil, to show their works which were subsequently brought together in a publication. Also that same day she gave a conference on the memory of Europe at the Ibero-American Secretariat-General.
At the Carlos V European Award ceremony philosopher, historian, sociologist, and philologist Tzvetan Todorov; Finnish politician Martti Ahtisaari; and historian María del Carmen Iglesias Cano, were all inaugurated as academics. Other appointments as academics were Portuguese historian Manuela Mendonça, President of the Academia Portuguesa de la Historia (Portuguese Academy of History); Monica Luisa Macovei, Romanian politician and current member of the European Parliament; Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra, Extremaduran politician, and President of the Extremadura Regional Government from 1983 to 2007, who took the Manuel Godoy Chair; Inge Schoenthal Feltrinelli, German editor and board member of the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation and member of the Comité Promotor de la Escuela de Libreros “Umberto y Elisabetta Mauri”; and the scientist and politician Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Director General of Unesco from 1987 to 1999.