Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
European Parliament elects new president
A state-of-the-art debating chamber awaits the MEPs
The dominant centre-right in the new European Parliament has flexed its muscles, choosing French MEP Nicole Fontaine as its president.
The vote was held on the Parliament's first day in its brand-new, purpose-built building in the French city of Strasbourg.
Ms Fontaine is the second woman to head the Parliament, after Simone Weil, the French Socialist who served from 1979-82.
Under a deal agreed last week with the 50-strong Liberal group, Liberal party leader Pat Cox of Ireland will take over the presidency midway through the parliament's five-year term.
It is the first time the Socialists have been kept out of the presidency. Previously, socialist and conservative blocs have shared the presidency between them.
Sizing up the Commission
As the parliament takes political shape, it will hear on Wednesday from the European Commission President, Romani Prodi.
The crunch will come in the autumn, when parliamentarians begin a series of hearings with each one of the prospective new commissioners.