Former Members' Association (FMA) Spreading information about the European Parliament and the EU
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May 1999: at a meeting of outgoing Members, organised by the Quaestors, a strong desire was expressed to create a Former Members' Association. The Bureau of Parliament considered the conclusions of this meeting on June 23rd  1999 and gave provisional approval to the proposed Association. It also agreed to provide technical and Lord Plumbadministrative support from the General Secretariat on the understanding that the responsibility for forming the Association remained exclusively with its prospective members. The former Members were invited to draw up a statute and to prepare and submit a report to the new Bureau, so that the conditions of the assistance to be provided for the Association after its creation could be examined.

1999: following the elections, a questionnaire was sent out to former Members seeking their views on the possible foundation of an Association.  520 out of the 1038 consulted former Members  replied positively, thus approving the creation of the Association.  The President of Parliament then invited former Members to a first meeting on September 20th  2000. In her letter she underlined that, as stated by the previous Bureau, the Association should be autonomous and subject to Belgian law, its administrative, legal and financial organisation should be outside Parliament's structures and that consequently Parliament would not have a direct part in it.

At the meeting convened by Mr. Balfe on behalf of the Quaestors and chaired by himself with the assistance of Mrs. Schleicher, the President confirmed in her welcome address to the more than 100 present former Members that, as soon as the Association was formally set up, financial and administrative assistance from the Parliament would be considered in order to facilitate the Association’s work.

Following a wide-ranging exchange of views, the meeting unanimously nominated Lord Plumb as its Rapporteur and asked Mr Balfe, Quaestor, to assist him.

May 30th 2001: a further meeting was held at which the draft Statutes were adopted and an interim Management Committee was selected to serve until, and to organise, the first full meeting of the General Assembly envisaged for November 28th 2001.

Members were reminded that the principal aims of the Association, as detailed in the Statutes, were to foster relationships between former Members, organise social and cultural events, information meetings, debates and study visits, and to establish and maintain contact with similar organisations.

With assistance from the Secretariat, a study of the situation in other Parliaments was carried out. It appeared, from the information provided by the national Parliaments about their different parliamentary associations, that many of them have quite similar aims.

In summary, the principal aims of those associations were to foster relationships between former Members by distributing newsletters, by organising social and cultural events, information meetings, debates and study visits and by keeping in contact with similar organisations in other countries.

The Statutes, or constitution, of the Association were governed by Belgian Law and set out the rules under which the Association would operate.

At the first FMA General Assembly held on November 28th 2001, the following 10 members were elected to the Management Committee by 37 nominated candidates.

 1. Henry PLUMB   6.Barbara SCHMIDBAUER
 2. Mario FORTE  7. Marijke VAN HEMELDONCK 
 4. Jean-Claude PASTY  9.François MUSSO
 5. Anthony SIMPSON  10.Jan-Willem BERTENS

Lord Plumb was the first President of the Association. He was replaced in 2006 by José María Gil Robles, and in 2010 by Pat Cox. The current President, Enrique Barón Crespo, was elected in April 2014.

A fuller account can be found in the report to the Bureau and the College of Quaestors by Lord Plumb and Richard Balfe dated June 2001.