Klaus Welle

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Klaus Welle became the Secretary General of the European Parliament in 15 March 2009. He was previously Head of the Office (chef de cabinet) of the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering MEP, from January 2007. He succeeded Harald Rømer, a Danish career civil servant, who had reached retirement age.

Born in Beelen, Germany in July 1964, Welle studied economics at the Witten/Herdecke University and worked in banking, before becoming Head of Foreign and European Affairs for the CDU party in Bonn (1991–94).[1] He made his political reputation by masterminding an unexpectedly strong CDU performance in the June 1994 European elections. Welle then served as Secretary General of the transnational, centre-right European People's Party (EPP), before becoming Secretary General of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament. He was then appointed Director General for Internal Policies in the general secretariat of the European Parliament, the department which services the 17 parliamentary committees dealing with domestic EU issues.

During his time with the EPP Europarty and EPP-ED Group in the EP, Welle is credited with the strategy of opening the formerly Christian Democrat alliance to a broader range of conservative and liberal political forces, so consolidating most of the mainstream European centre-right under an EPP umbrella. This approach culminated in the EPP-ED Group becoming the largest political group in the European Parliament in June 1999, a position it has enjoyed ever since. Since 2004, the EPP has been the strongest political force in the main EU institutions as a whole, with Welle still perceived as an important behind-the-scenes influence at senior level within EPP politics. In 1991-95, Welle cut his political teeth as Chair of the Democrat Youth Community of Europe.,[2] which brought together Christian Democrat and Conservative students from across Europe.

As Secretary General of the European Parliament since 2009, Welle interpreted his role in a more proactive way than some of his predecessors, strongly emphasising the Parliament's role as a law-making body, especially given the significant boost in powers the institution received under the Lisbon Treaty. He promoted a long-run shift in the use of resources towards policy work, and away from back-office administration and traditional overheads, such as translation and interpretation (which consume over a third of the Parliament's budget). He used his position to try to strengthen the Parliament's position in inter-institutional relations, not only with the European Commission, but also the Council of Ministers. He also boosted links with the US Congress by opening an EP representative office in Washington DC.

On 23 May 2010, the British newspaper The Sunday Times, citing an anonymous source, claimed that Welle intended to provide an Apple iPad to each of the 736 MEPs. The article implied that earmarking money for iPads was not the best example of austerity, at a time when European member states were suffering severe budget deficits. However, a parliament spokesperson interviewed for the article was reportedly not aware of any such initiative.[3][4] Welle, however, promoted moves to a 'paperless' Parliament, developing, for example, an 'eCommittee' facility, whereby Members can table amendments and undertake some other aspects of committee work electronically.

References[edit]


Party political offices
Preceded by
Neale Stevenson
Chairman of the Democrat Youth Community of Europe
1991-1994
Succeeded by
Arthur Winkler-Hermaden