The Archives unit is the official record keeper of the European Parliament. It manages and preserves the Parliament's official public documents and other archival fonds, dating back to 1952. It also assists researchers on the history of the Parliament and European integration, publishes studies and articles on these subjects, and works closely with the EU Historical Archives at the European University Institute and the House of  European History.

Louise Weiss: a committed European

@AFP

A lifelong progressive and a steadfast witness to many of the 20th century's great upheavals, the work and vision of Louise Weiss (1893-1983) resonates across Europe to this day. 

As a pioneer of the European ideal she strived tirelessly to establish equality, peace and unity throughout the continent. In a life that spanned much of the 20th century, she worked as a journalist meeting some of the greatest politicians and thinkers of her age, a campaigner for women's rights, a documentary maker travelling the world, a popular speaker, writer and memorialist and eventually a Member of the European Parliament. 

In 1999, the building containing the Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg was named in her honour.

The Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament and human rights throughout the world

© European Union

This selection of pieces from the European Parliament's written and audiovisual archives traces and illustrates the history of the Sakharov Prize since its inception in 1988. It shows how MEPs became advocates for human rights and democracy throughout the world even prior to the first direct elections in 1979.

The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought every year since 1988. It is given to individuals or citizens' organisations around the world who fight for human rights and democracy. It is the highest honour bestowed by the EU for actions that promote human rights. Its name pays homage to Soviet physicist turned political dissident Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

The Sakharov Prize honours particular achievements (intellectual or artistic work or active contribution) in the following fields: 

  • defending human rights and fundamental freedoms (in particular freedom of expression),
  • safeguarding the rights of minorities,
  • upholding international law,
  • developing democracy and implementing the rule of law.

Sakharov Prize winners have come from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. They have included dissidents, political leaders, journalists, lawyers, civil society activists, writers, mothers and wives, spokespeople for minorities, anti-terrorism and anti-torture activists, peace activists, a cartoonist, prisoners of conscience who served or are serving long jail sentences, a film director, the United Nations as a body, a doctor and even a young girl defending the right to education.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union turns 20

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, 2000 © European Union

Solemnly proclaimed on 7 December 2000 at the Nice European Council, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is now twenty years old. The European Parliament had been pushing for a document like this for a long time. In fact, MEPs felt it was important that every citizen should be able to find out about the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to them in the European Union and its Member States, and that a system of redress should be available to raise possible violations.

The Charter was designed to be a fundamental benchmark and is the result of an entirely novel drafting method within a Convention that made it possible for the European Parliament to play a vital role. The result is a single compilation of all the civil, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by European citizens and everyone living in European Union territory. The rights are grouped according to several essential principles: human dignity, fundamental freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizenship and justice.

But the Charter also aims to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe so they can share a future based on common values. Since 2009, fundamental rights have been elevated to treaty level, as the Treaty of Lisbon makes reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Accordingly, it is annexed to the treaties and is now applied by the European Union courts.

New website to discover the Jean Monnet House

The new Jean Monnet House website is now online. 

Discover more about the life and work of the man called the 'architect of a united Europe', and learn about the activities that will be happening in this cradle of European integration, which has been owned by the European Parliament since the 1980s.

Even during the time it has been closed to visitors, the Jean Monnet House has continued to guide European citizens in discovering Europe and its history through online exhibitions, news, and teaching materials for schools. 

To visit the Jean Monnet House is to immerse yourself in the place where the idea of a united Europe took its first steps to become reality. It was here that the Declaration of 9 May 1950, the founding text of European integration, was written by Robert Schuman, then the French Minister for Foreign Affairs. Jean Monnet had always been inspired by the project to unite the peoples of Europe, convinced that working together was the only way to ensure lasting peace. His method was pragmatic: traveling, convincing people through the power of simple ideas, highlighting their common interest. 

At his house in Houjarray you will discover the legacy that Jean Monnet left to all European citizens, and trace the history of a united Europe to the present day.

It was 30 years ago. The European Parliament, the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification

People celebrating German Reunification in front of the Reichstag, 1990 @European Union

In the night from 9 to 10 November 1989, with absolutely no warning, the Berlin Wall opened at the same time as the communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) collapsed. The Cold War was coming to an end and a momentous page was being turned in Europe's history. A month later, the Brandenburg Gate officially opened, definitively restoring free movement between the two Germanies. On 3 October 1990, German unification was achieved, effectively transforming the future of European integration. Despite the speed of events, the European Parliament played its role to the full, stepping up its efforts in response to these political developments. For several months, it provided a forum for the European leaders tasked with preparing the reunification of Germany. Concerned with the political, economic and institutional implications of this historic moment for the European Community, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) supported German reunification, increasingly calling for democratisation and respect for human rights in Central and Eastern Europe.

A look at Parliament’s historical records of documents, photos, videos and more

It's International Archives Day on the 9th of June, so what better occasion to delve into the European Parliament's own rich historical collections?

The European Parliament archive operation involves the storing of documents, managed by the Archives Unit of the Office of the Secretary-General, the European Parliament's multimedia library's extensive collection of photos, video footage and audio material, run by DG COMM's Audiovisual Unit.

Of course, units and teams across the Parliament contribute material.

All preserved items are traces of the Parliament's activities, 'memories' of its legislative and administrative activities since 1952. When gathered together and put into context by researchers, historians and media planners, they help to cement the EP's identity and culture.

Parliament's predecessors

The archives include extremely significant documents from Parliament's history, or rather its pre-history...
On 10 September 1952, the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community held its first session, which was opened by Antonio Boggiano Pico, as the 'Président d'âge' (the Common Assembly's oldest member). His speech reflected the "long road" travelled since Robert Schuman's declaration two years before.

The Common Assembly became the European Parliamentary Assembly (which would become the European Parliament in 1962). At its constitutive session on 19 March 1958, the Président d'âge Granzotto Basso ended his opening speech by stating his wish to see "the political unification of Europe, for the well-being of our children and of the generations to come".

A look back in time

Parliament’s Robert Schuman building in Luxembourg, where a small number of plenary sessions were held between 1973 and 1979 © European Union 1977 - EP


Built between 1970 and 1973, the Schuman building had a 120-seat debating chamber. The building reveals the architectural trends of the time, including its bas-relief made of zinc, while the photo also shows the surrounding, long-gone grass fields of the Kirchberg.

The power of speech

Simone VEIL as EP President © Communautés européennes 1979

Parliament's archives also include 'moving parts', of course, such as this historic video recording of a moving address given by Simone Veil on her election as the President of the first European Parliament to be elected by direct universal suffrage, on 17 July 1979.

Her speech included words that still resonate today: "The European Parliament, now elected by universal suffrage, now bears a special responsibility. To meet the challenges facing Europe, we will have to guide it in three directions: the Europe of solidarity, the Europe of independence, the Europe of cooperation."

70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration. 9 May 1950

Robert Schuman delivering his declaration in the Salon de l'Horloge in the French Foreign Ministry building at Quai d'Orsay in Paris on 9 May 1950 © European Union, 2020

This year, May 9, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.

While the European Union is today facing major challenges, it seemed important for the European Parliament to reconsider this revolutionary initiative which, on 9 May 1950, served as a starting point for the construction of a Community Europe.

We must not forget all the efforts that were necessary - in the middle of the Cold War - to lay the first milestones of an integration process that has marked the history of our continent so much.

Round table: “40 years since the first European elections: the making of a new institution”

© European Union 2019 - Source : EP

The Archives of the European Parliament from the European Parliamentary Research Service (DG EPRS) together with the Former Member's Association (FMA) and the European University Institute (EUI) organised on 03 April 2019 a round table on the development of the European Parliament as a new institution following the first direct election by universal suffrage in 1979.

The round table brought together in a first panel researchers who have written substantial studies of different aspects of the European Parliament's role and development during the first two legislatures as directly elected Parliament: Professors Birte Wassenberg, Wolfram Kaiser, and Laurent Warlouzet.

A second panel, included actors in the making of the new institution: former European Parliament Presidents Hans-Gert Pöttering, Enrique Barón Crespo, Pat Cox, and Klaus Hänsch, and former Vice President Charlotte Cederschiöld. Each of these former Members of the European Parliament made statements in support of the European Parliament ahead of the elections.

It happened in the EP

November 2021

© Communautés Europeennes 1984

On 20 and 21 November 1961, Crown Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Strasbourg on a study visit to the European Parliamentary Assembly.