Results of the European Parliament elections held earlier this week show that 17 persons from the 31-member European Parliament (EP) Intergroup for Tibet are returning to the European Parliament.

“We are encouraged that more than half of the Tibet Intergroup members will be coming back to the Parliament,” said Ms. Tsering Jampa, Executive Director, International Campaign for Tibet Europe. “This result shows that parliamentarians in the Tibet Intergroup are popular representatives and have strong support from the European constituency, despite the low turn out by European citizens during the elections.”

The expansion of the European Union (EU) by 10 member states on 1 May 2004 is also an encouraging sign, Ms Jampa remarked, given the existing level of support for Tibet in many of these countries and that their transition from authoritarian to democratic governments binds them to the struggle for basic freedoms in Tibet.

“The International Campaign for Tibet is optimistic that parliamentarians from the new EU member states will help strengthen political support for Tibet in Europe and ensure that Tibet is placed high on the EU’s agenda,” said Ms. Jampa.

“Given the return of so many MEPs from some six of the EP political groups, we are confident that at least three of the eight political groups within the European Parliament will acknowledge the importance of the Intergroup’s work by wholeheartedly supporting it reestablishment,” Ms. Jampa added.

The Intergroup for Tibet was founded Mr. Michel Herv? (a former French member of the EP) in 1989 to fulfill three main objectives: (i) to create opportunities for informal discussion amongst MEPs who were interested in the situation in Tibet; (ii) to provide information on the subject for their colleagues and the public in general; and (iii) to encourage various forms of political action.

The EP elections were held across the recently expanded EU’s 25 member states from 10 – 13 June 2004. The turn out trend has decreased gradually during recent EP elections, which are held every five years, and has now hit an all time low of 45.5 per cent. This poor turn out is of concern to the EU’s member states and governments have since committed to strengthening the European constituency’s understanding of how the EU is relevant to their daily lives.