German deputy Elmar Brok has been an MEP since 1980 or as he puts it with a wry laugh, "A long, long time".
As for how the parliament has changed over that period, Brok told the Parliament Magazine, "We are 28 [member states] and have an equal say in every legislation, also in setting up the commission and the commission president, then we have the last word.
"That is an incredible development. We are now, with this, a grown up parliament."
Speaking at the first plenary session of the new term, his attention turned to what parliament must do in the future.
"We have to consolidate these powers now, show that we can handle the responsibility. That is the important thing.
"We have to communicate in a better way to our citizens that we are the institution, the mediator, between the will of the citizens, and the executive branch," he explained.
"I think we have to consolidate the policy, we have to ensure that new member countries can come in a better shape, that they can have equal standards of living, and we have to look more to the cases of youth unemployment and to question the use of structural funding in a better way" - Elmar Brok MEP
He said that there is still much to be done to improve the lives of Europe's citizens, arguing, "I think we have to consolidate the policy, we have to ensure that new member countries can come in a better shape, that they can have equal standards of living, and we have to look more to the cases of youth unemployment and to question the use of structural funding in a better way.
The EPP group deputy continued, "For example, for corporates to support stronger small and medium sized companies, which create jobs in the regions, make this a better development for more growth. I think that is something the parliament has to do."
As the long-standing chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee, he told this magazine, "I think 20 years ago we had zero foreign policy."
He said that Europe's involvement in the Balkan region, and then the creation of the Lisbon treaty "which needs to be consolidated and completed" are examples of how Europe's foreign policy has developed.
"I think the Ukrainian situation has shown that we are we are not far away from a real one-voice policy, and that we have to be much better in foreign policy and make sure that we go forward jointly," but, the veteran parliamentarian conceded, "We have to do more in defence and security".