The latest furore causing consternation in MEP circles is that the octogenarian Jean-Marie Le Pen – known for his outspoken views on immigration and race – looks set to address the new Parliament in its inaugural session. Why? Well, he is set to be the oldest MEP in the new Parliament, assuming he is elected in June, and the rules say that as the oldest MEP he is able to preside over the first Parliament session. The fact that he is rarely seen there apparently does not preclude him from this honour.
The opposition, particularly the left, has come out all guns blazing, saying that this should not be allowed and that the rules need to be changed. They are right in their argument but wrong in their reasoning. The fact that such a rule exists is preposterous. As noted by Leader of the Greens Daniel Cohn-Bendit, surely it should be the youngest MEP who is allowed such an honour, as after all the Parliament wants to be seen as a forward looking and funky institution (doesn’t it?).
Failing that, how about the MEP who made the greatest gain in his or her constituency? Or the MEP who had the most reports adopted in the previous term? Or the longest-serving MEP? After all, the R&B singer Aaliyah hit it on the head when she sang “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”