Protests mar opening of European Parliament

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Legislators from right-wing parties, Brexiteers and Catalan independence backers have disrupted the formal opening session of the European Parliament.

Some refused to stand as a jazz ensemble started playing the European Union’s (EU) anthem — Beethoven’s Ode to Joy — while others, notably from Britain’s Brexit Party, turned their backs on the proceedings.

There was also a protest against the decision to deny Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont taking his seat and a defence of the German ship captain who is held in Italy in a standoff over migrant rights.

After the formal opening, normal proceedings soon resumed.

Yesterday marked the first day in the new five-year session of the legislature following the May elections which set the scene for a more fractured parliament.

Belgium’s Guy Verhofstadt and other anti-Brexit Parliament members during the new European Parliament first session in Strasbourg, eastern France. – AP