Almost half of the European Parliament chamber is made up of fresh faces. Among them, the youngest member. Born on May 13th, 1984 Denmark’s Emilie Turunen has only just turned 25.
Another newcomer is the former French justice minister Rachida Dati, who switched to the EU when she was fired by President Sarkozy. Green MEP Emilie Turunen said: “I think there are some huge challenges. We are very different in Europe but we’re here together to make the best political co-operation and I’m looking forward to that, also to get to know other political cultures, so I’m just very curious about everything. And people seem very open and friendly and that’s a good start. And then we can argue afterwards with the political lines.” Rachida Dati, from the centre-right EPP-ED group said: “The European Parliament isn’t an unknown quantity for me. I knew it as a magistrate and equally during the French presidency of the European Union. It’s indispensible, it’s essential to be there at the parliament when you are a minister, and when you’re dealing with subjects as important as justice and security. So I understand the workings and the issues of the EP. And now, as an MEP, I’ve simply shifted across the line. It’s another role, but with the same convictions and values as when I was justice minister.” They are among the women who make up 35 per cent of the MEPs – still not equal representation with the men, but nevertheless four points up on their showing in the last parliament. The centre-right EPP is the biggest group but without a majority. Britain’s Tories have decided not to join linking up instead with, among others, the eurosceptic conservatives from the Czech Republic and Poland. The Socialists are the second most prominent, with the Liberals in third. The anthem Ode to Joy upset the Group for Liberty and Democracy. Its leader, Nigel Farage of the anti-european UK Independence Party said it was still being given prominence even though the concept of a european anthem was rejected by the French and the Dutch in a vote in 2005.