At the end of September 2016, it was announced that the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in the European Parliament had nominated its vice-president MEP Helga Stevens as a candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament.
EUD (European Union of the Deaf) Executive Director, Mark Wheatley recently interviewed Helga Stevens MEP about her ambitions for the presidency of the European Parliament.
The election will take place at the plenary session in Strasbourg on 17th of January 2017.
“EUD is excited to see a deaf person run for the highest office in the European Parliament. Helga Stevens has a long history of advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities and deaf rights: as a trained lawyer, as a former project officer at well as executive director and president of EUD, as a former member of the Flemish Parliament and a senator in the Belgian Federal Parliament as well as a Member of the European Parliament.
“We hope that she would be able to use this new office effectively to continue this work. For instance, she strongly believes that it is important that deaf persons can approach their representatives in the European Parliament in sign language. She also wants to address various problems that citizens in Europe face, for example with regards to employment, migration and the economy.”
Profile: Helga Stevens
Born deaf on 9 August 1968, she went to a special school for deaf people in Hasselt, but later switched to a normal school in Sint-Truiden. After spending a year in St. Louis, Missouri, she studied law at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Then she went back to the United States and obtained a master’s degree at the Law School of the University of California in Berkeley in 1993–94.
In 1996, she started working for the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) and was active in the Federation of Flemish Deaf Organisations.
She was elected as a Member of the Flemish Parliament in 2004 and as a member of the Senate in 2007. She was re-elected for the Flemish Parliament in 2009 and as a member of the Senate in 2010.
In May 2014, Stevens was elected Member of the European Parliament. In November 2014, she was elected vice-president of the European Conservatives and Reformists group. In addition to her committee assignments, Stevens serves as president of the European Parliament’s Disabilities Intergroup.
See an exclusive extract from the interview below or watch the full interview here.
— EUD (@EUD_Brussels) January 10, 2017