Sir Julian Priestley remembered

, by Jo Leinen, Richard Corbett

Sir Julian Priestley remembered
Sir Julian Gordon Priestley, civil servant, born 26 May 1950, died 22 April 2017.

Upon the recent passing of Sir Julian Priestley, Richard Corbett MEP and Jo Leinen MEP remember a proud British European, former President of JEF Europe (from 1974 to 1976) who also served as one of the highest ranking EU civil servants as Secretary General of the European Parliament.

Many members and friends of the Young European Federalists (JEF) will be sad to learn of the death of Julian Priestley at the age of just 66.

Julian was President of the JEF at European level for two years (1974-75), at a time when the autonomy of JEF was threatened by attempts by a political party youth organisation to take it over, attempts he fought off in a series of battles.

In Britain, he led the Youth for Europe campaign in the 1975 referendum on British membership, receiving many plaudits, not least for a speech to the pro-Europe rally on Trafalgar Square where he out-performed the previous speakers, Ted Heath, Roy Jenkins and Jeremy Thorpe.

Although he had several opportunities to enter British politics – and with his grasp of issues, his mellifluous voice and his good looks, he would have reached the highest levels – he chose to dedicate his career to Europe, and in particular to build a democratic Europe with a central position for the elected European Parliament.

Julian was for ten years the Secretary General of the European Parliament – the highest ranking EU civil servant – having risen through the ranks of the Parliament secretariat. This long and distinguished career included heading the budget committee secretariat when the EP rejected the budget for the first time ever, being elected by EP staff to head the staff committee, becoming Director of parliamentary committees, five years as Secretary General of the Socialist Group, chef de cabinet to Parliament President Klaus Hänsch, and finally an acclaimed Secretary General of the Parliament itself.

He will be remembered as one of the Brits who helped build the EU, sadly just as it seems likely that Britain will probably leave.

Tribute co-written by Richard Corbett MEP (President, JEF Europe, 1979-81) and Jo Leinen MEP (President, JEF Germany, 1974-77).

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