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21-year-old Danish student Kira Peter-Hansen becomes youngest MEP in history

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21-year-old Danish student Kira Peter-Hansen becomes youngest MEP in history
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21 years, 3 months and 3 days. That's how old university student Kira Marie Peter-Hansen was when she made history as the youngest person ever to be elected as a Member of the European Parliament.

Who is she? What does she stand for? And how is she feeling?

"My phone hasn't stopped buzzing" she told me in her first international interview since winning her seat with Denmark's Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People's Party).

An economics student at Copenhagen University, Peter-Hansen is yet to complete her studies.

"Have you told the university about your election win!?" I asked.

"Not yet..." she confesses, "but I think they'll know now!"

Kira Marie Peter Hansen tweets after becoming youngest MEP ever, by one month

She's narrowly beaten the previous record set in 1999 by Ilka Schröder, who was one month older than Peter-Hansen at the time of her election. Like Ilka before her, she will sit with the Greens in the European Parliament. But unlike the situation in 1999, Peter-Hansen takes her seat against a backdrop of mass climate marches across the continent, and the demand for urgent action.

However, the reality of life for a Green MEP isn't straightforward, even if they try their hardest to stick to their principles. Like all their colleagues they must travel from their home countries to the parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. That's a 16 hour journey on the train from Copenhagen for Europe's youngest MEP, who had to keep an eye on the time while being interviewed so she could safely catch a flight.

So, if even Green MEPs have to rely on fossil fuel-guzzling short haul trips, is Europe ready for the 'Green Transition' Peter-Hansen campaigned so hard for?

"Well, we need to be ready. Because if we do not fight the climate crisis, we might as well just give up!

"It's going to be hard. Right now we're working on changing the meetings, so we don't have to go to Denmark or our home country ever week, but could maybe do two weeks in Brussels and then one week home so we can minimise the time on a flight," she said, adding that she welcomes further taxes on flights, and an overhaul of Europe's rail network to tackle emissions.

However, many working people fear a 'Green Transition' will hit them hard. In France, proposed fuel tax increases proved the catalyst for the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protests. In major cities like London, measures to clamp down on polluting vehicles have been met with anger from small businesses.

Peter-Hansen acknowledges that this is perhaps the greatest challenge green policies face. She mentions Poland, where the coal industry remains a significant employer.

"Of course it's an issue...We need a social Europe that can also catch the people who fall out of employment because their job changes. But I think then we can get then them in greener jobs", she says.

Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is one of the new intake of MEPs

When you look at the makeup of the new parliament, it is certainly an eclectic mix. Peter-Hansen will be taking her seat at the same chamber as infamous Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is nearly four times her age!

And with Greens holding just 69 of the 751 seats, what chance is there that fresh faces like hers will be able to influence the direction Europe takes over the next five years?

"I'm going to do my best...I think that we as a Green group have a new position, since the S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) and the EPP (European People's Party) don't have a majority any more, but of course it takes time.

"If we fight for it, I think we can make it work".