Video: EU Parliament Members Turn Backs on Beethoven's Ninth in Protest
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 - 06:00 PM
During the ceremonial opening of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Tuesday, lawmakers from Britain's Euroskeptic, anti-immigration UK Independence Party turned their backs on the assembly while a local orchestra performed the European anthem, the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
The Associated Press describes the new Parliament as "more raucous, more anti-immigration and more skeptical" with how the EU is run. Some members want tough immigration curbs, others seek to dismantle the euro currency or want to see their country leave the union altogether. Voters in May handed almost one in three seats to parties seeking to slash its powers.
The orchestra in the video, the Strasbourg Philharmonic, continues to perform, undeterred by the protest (a full video is posted on the European Commission website). But another MEP, Liberal Democrat Catherine Bearder, later tweeted, "Shocking disrespect from UKIP and others to turn back on orchestra at opening ceremony."
Parliament’s 751 lawmakers have an important role in shaping EU policies on issues ranging from financial regulation to agriculture subsidies.
In a very different setting, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on Saturday in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.