The members of the European Parliament were directly elected for the first time. The parliament held its first session in Strasbourg on 17 July 1979. Louise Weiss as the "oldest member" presided over the chamber. Simone Veil was elected president.
The Decision and Act on European elections by direct universal suffrage were signed in Brussels on 20 September 1976. Following ratification by all Member States, the Act entered into force on July 1978, and the first elections took place on 7 and 10 June 1979.
Louise Weiss was a journalist and politician. She co-founded the journal “L’Europe Nouvelle” later she created a movement advocating women’s suffrage in France. She became the oldest member of the European Parliament in 1979.
Already a renowned politician in France, where she became minister for health in 1974, Veil was elected member of the European Parliament at the first direct elections in 1979. The new Parliament elected her as its president for a period of two-and-a-half years. She thus became the first president of the directly-elected European Parliament and the first woman president of any EU institution.