Eurosceptics make controversial return to EU Parliament

Nigel Farage. European Parliament, July 2nd. [European Parliament/Flickr]

The new European Parliament was in session for the first time on Tuesday, 1 July. There was a record number of Eurosceptic MEPs, making a controversial return after their victory in May’s EU elections. EurActiv France reports from Strasbourg.

The Eurosceptics stood out from the crowd for the European Parliament's first session in Strasbourg. 751 MEPs from 28 member states sat for the reconstitution session and, despite the surge of Euroscepticism in the wake of the EU elections, it was the Socialists' Martin Schulz who was re-elected as President of the Parliament.

Among the 52 non-affiliated Eurosceptic MEPs, almost half belong to the National Front (FN), France's far right party. Marine Le Pen, its president, failed to form a parliamentary group, which means less visibility and money.

During the vote by secret ballot on Tuesday (1 July), 409 MEPs backed Martin Schulz to become President for a second term. Sajjad Karim, the British euro-reformist member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, came second with 101 votes. His party has just 70 MEPs, which means he won favour from other European groups.

Forsaking the European anthem

MEPs from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Party (EFD), Nigel Farage Eurosceptic group, deliberately stood up and turned their backs during the EU’s unofficial anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The group, made up of UKIP and Beppe Grillo’s party, saw their numbers jump from 31 to 48 MEPs after successful EU elections.

>> Read: UKIP and National Front stage EU Parliament protests

MEPs from the National Front chose to remain seated during the EU anthem. Both provocations had the desired effect, and pro-European MEPs reacted angrily.

"It is totally disrespectful," said Gilles Pargneaux, French Socialist MEP. "Marine Le Pen stayed seated and UKIP members stood up and turned their backs."

The National Front is now France’s number one party in Europe, having increased its number of seats from 3 to 24. Despite this victory, Marine Le Pen's influence will be limited because she failed to form a parliamentary party. She also saw her delegation lose an MEP when Joelle Bergeron left to join Farage's EFD group.

Fresh concerns

Although the number of Eurosceptic MEPs increased, there are still not enough to systematically block EU legislation. "Radicals and extremists in the European Parliament cannot form a majority," said Manfred Weber, German president of the European People's Party (EPP).

"There is a crushing majority of pro-Europeans in the European Parliament," said Martin Schulz during a press conference following his re-election as president of the Parliament. He went on to say that the Parliament will have to legislate with a larger majority. The Socialists (S&D), the right (EPP) and the Liberals (ALDE) will have to work closely together.

But the influence of Eurosceptic parties should not be underestimated. "I fear that the FN members will evolve from observers to contributors in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee," said Sylvie Guillaume, who was elected European Parliament vice-president on Tuesday.

"Marine Le Pen likes saying that if you do not like France, leave it. Well I want to tell her: if you don't like the European Parliament, leave it!" said Socialist MEP Édouard Martin. He also warned: if there is no real economic and social progress, it will be difficult to stop the rise of the National Front. This can be applied to all Eurosceptic parties, as they continue to gather momentum.



an european's picture

MEPs from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Party (EFD), Nigel Farage Eurosceptic group, deliberately stood up and turned their backs during the EU’s unofficial anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Do the british have an Anthem? Or do they have 4 anthems ? - Wales, Scotland , England , Ireland

Poop on this England's Farage and his kippers and splitter !

I like Ode to joy and the European Flag !

A Londoner's picture

The demonstration was by euro-sceptics from at least 3 countries - France, Italy & UK. But you are abusive only towards the UK.

Conrad Wallenrod's picture

It was Farage who started it - you want out of EU? Stop abusing finances, expenses and our parliament and go to your parliament - because thsi is the place where future of your country is decided. Your referendum is your internal affair - so go and moan in proper place. Verhostadt told it your Farage already some years ago. Next thing is abusive language, Farage a man drinkiing beer since the morning is accusing Mr.Juncker of drinking to much cognac. So let mi get this straight - misuser of an alcohol is accusing another person of moisusing of an alcohol - paradox. Ah yes is he smoker as well? Of course Farage is smoking +20 cigarettes per day, but bad habit of Mr.Juncker is worth of critics of the guy who has bad habit of smoking as well. Ironic isn't it.

an european's picture

I agree with you BUT ,
t's not abusive !
U.K. has begun with Ukip's & Splitters all that mess with even lying and influencing it's own British or English people to do it (not to forget the english press ass well) !
The U.K. will Leave the European Union's only a matter of time because they continues to act as before !

Concerning Papa Grilletto - this hypocrite clown who only need a red ball as a noise and you're done !
Concerning Le Pen who's philosophy is the "demographic cleanser with Ebola" Speech of herPpaa!

In fact FN with it's underground organisation JNR are worser than any worser than Ebola itself !

Whatever we can split the U.K. or the European Union (The E.U.) saying whatever mindless history to influence people outside and the U.K. and his plane crasher (Farage) is magically doing very well in that matter !
Tell some one in France or in the U.K. how the E.U. is constituted then often you will get false answer !
It's always easy to listen to others merely to inform itself!

AR's picture

I am Alberto Rodrigues an economical and digital science researcher in this document i will present one of the bigest mistake Europe Union have been commiting

For the beguning i have to tell you that different companies use more than 10% of their incomes for advertising purpose Europe Union use just 1% of PIB for propaganda and this is done using funds Because of this funds are not used to solve EU priorities problems but for propaganda scopes

Because of this EU use to spread useless funds in different areas which do not bring incomes and profit in very short time and create enough jobs but it help in propaganda issues

Europe Union must stop this and invest with priority all the 1% funds in the economic engine For example if EU will invest with priority in know how transfer which can be combined with special tourists products , money invested monday will create jobs in tourism ,transport ,agriculture , construction ,real estate, commerce ,service ,artesanat ,food industries ,art and entertainment ,ecological industries ,advertising ,new media ,digital economy and dozens of some other domains linked with them

Apart of this those economic activities will help EU to reduce pollution make a better demografic distribuition of the population because like this a big parte of people who are leaving in so crowed cities can move back to the countrysite

Up to know EU had been using founds just for propaganda They spread very litle found everywhere they beleave it will help them to achieve propaganda scopes

The situation is similar with a train which must run in competition with some others but instead to put all the fuel gas in the engines they spread useless it in different parts of the train just to provoke a smell for propaganda issues and because of this the train run slowly just 10 km and then it stop in middle of the road

During this time Eu competitors as they use to put all the fuel gas in the economic engine they arrive fast in the destination and they leave EU so much behind

Eu must use the 1% founds just in economic areas where money invested monday can bring high profit friday ,without consuming resourses producing pollutions ,create a large number of well paid jobs and give possibilities for employes to work from home and like this they can take care of their kids ,give them good education etc