26th Mar 2019

New MEPs include far right and youngest deputy

  • Finally, the parliament's 'ghost' members have arrived (Photo: EUobserver)

The first of a group of new MEPs have taken up their seats in the European Parliament. Among them are members of the far-right as well as the youngest deputy in the house.

From a total of 18 new MEPs, in limbo since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 created their mandates, 17 were welcomed on Monday (12 December) at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg.

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The 18th, from the Netherlands, is awaiting the official appointment by the country's electoral committee, expected on Wednesday.

“Friends, new members of the European Parliament, stand up, we would like to welcome you,” said Jerzy Buzek, the president of the parliament, who went on to name the newcomers one by one. “Welcome to our hard work,” he added.

The 18 so-called ghost MEPs are from Spain (4), Austria (2), France (2), Sweden (2), Bulgaria, Italy, Malta, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, and the UK.

Politically, the majority of the group comes from the right, with eight MEPs from the centre-right European People’s Party, one from the European Conservatives and Reformists, and two from far-right, non-affiliated national parties.

The centre-left Socialists and Democrats gain an extra five members while the Greens will see their ranks reinforced with two deputies.

Among the newcomers is Austrian Ewald Stadler, member of the far-right Alliance of the Future of Austria (BZO). Stadler is a fierce critic of Islam and of Turkey’s accession to the EU. Making the rounds on far-right forums is a video of an animated speech he gave last year in the Austrian parliament, in which he calls freedom of religion "pure hypocrisy" and blames "the Turks" for “sending them here, the stone-age Muslims, illiterates from Anatolia.”

Also remarkable is the imminent return of Daniel van der Stoep, a former Dutch MEP for the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders. He stepped down in August after having caused a car accident while driving drunk.

His re-appointment has been settled, he said on Tuesday. He will not, however, return to the PVV delegation, but join the few MEPs who are not affiliated to any grouping in the EU assembly.

Bringing the average age of parliamentarians down slightly will be Amelia Andersdotter, a 24-year-old from Sweden who will be the Pirate Party’s second MEP. She was 21 when she was elected.

“It is an awful shame that things have taken so long,” she told EUobserver. “There were one million votes cast for myself and [centre-left Swedish MEP] Jens Nilsson. It is anti-democratic.”

She is eager to begin, she says, dealing mostly with telecommunications and how freedom and privacy on the internet can be guaranteed. “I like looking forward rather than looking backwards."

The legal quirk with the 18 MEPs happened because European elections took place in June 2009. However, the Lisbon Treaty, with its extra seats for the parliament, only came into force in December. The subsequent delay was due to figuring out how the extra MEPs should be nominated as not all countries had prepared for the disparity in the European elections.

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