Thursday, 5 February 2009


Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas arrives to address MEPs in the vast debating chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Our own president, Hans Gert Poettering, stands besides him. The European anthem from Beethoven's ninth is played. MEPs stand - well, most of them, some UKIP members and fellow travellers stay seated at the back of the classroom (sorry, chamber), giggling and chatting.

The notion of a European anthem was included in the Constitutional Treaty (not adopted), dropped by the Lisbon Treaty (not yet adopted), but adopted by the European Parliament. This is the first time I have heard it used.

Standing for an anthem is an unusual experience for a Brit these days. I have no objection, and will do so happily in the UK as well as here, but I do feel a touch embarrassed.

The ceremony might be more solemn if the music coming over the PA system didn't have the tinny sound of someone holding a microphone to a transistor radio. It comes over fine on TV I am told.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The great Spike Milligan on the national anthem:

"If you'll stand for that, you'll stand for anything."