In Memoriam: Simone Veil dies aged 89

Simone Veil, the first directly elected president of the European Parliament in 1979, died on 30 June 2017 at the age of 89.

Veil, the former French politician, was born Simone Jacob in 1927. In her memoir, A Life, she describes in vivid detail a time of happiness and innocence spent in Nice where she grew up. This happy time came to an abrupt end in 1944, when at the age of 17, her family was deported to the camps. Her mother, father and brother all died in captivity. With undeterred resolve, she studied law and political science and became Minister for Health (1974–1979) in the government of Jacques Chirac, where her hardest political fight was to introduce the law to legalise abortion, which was passed in 1975.

She was elected the first President of the European Parliament (1979-1985) and returned to French government as Minister for Social Affairs (1993-1995). In 1998, aged 70, she received an honorary damehood from the British Government for her contributions to humanity. Veil, one of France’s most beloved political figures, is admired for her personal and political courage, and enjoys respect from all political spectrums. Veil later sat on France’s top Constitutional Court, a position she held until 2007.

SOURCE: Politico EU, by Connor Murphy, 30 June 2017 ; Amazon