Belgium bestowed the decoration of Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold upon Klaus Welle, former Secretary General of the European Parliament, at a ceremony on Monday at Belgium’s Permanent Representation to the EU.
The Order of Leopold is the oldest and most important national order in Belgium. It was introduced by law in 1832 by Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians. It is usually awarded to people with a certain status after a long and distinguished career or for special merit.
In this case Klaus Welle, a German official and Secretary General of the European Parliament during 14 years (2009 – 2022) was awarded the prestigious and highest civilian decoration in Belgium for his achievements in developing the parliamentary space in Brussels to the benefit of the city, the ‘capital of Europe’.
He was considered a proactive Secretary General and reinforced among others the policy staff servicing parliamentary committees and established the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).
He also raised the visibility of the EU in Brussels. “Klaus Welle was a key player in developing what may be called an open parliamentary space in the heart of Brussels,” said Ambassador Willem van de Voorde, Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the EU, who handed over the decoration in the presence of European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and other dignitaries
“Thanks to his efforts, this space now boasts landmarks such as the Visitors Centre Parlamentarium, the House of European History, the Wiertz House and Citizens’ Garden, and Station Europe.”
In welcoming the decoration, Klaus Welle strongly emphasized the role of the European Parliament in Brussels and in Belgium, acknowledging that “in Brussels, everybody is a minority, even the Belgians. So, what better place to have the capital of Europe than in Brussels?”