EU flag and anthem revived by MEPs
2008-10-11 0:00

By Stephen Adams |

MEPs have decided to revive symbols of the European Union like the flag and the anthem in an attempt to foster greater pride in the institution.

The flag, a politically correct motto and Beethoven's Ode to Joy will all be used more by the European Parliament as it tries to help citizens identify more easily with the EU.

But Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and an MEP himself, has accused his parliamentary colleagues of "trying to ram them down our throats".

MEPs said: "Symbols are vital elements of any communication process."

The politicians stated they "convey an emotional image of the underlying values of the organisations they represent."

With this in mind, they have decided to make more use of the flag and the motto "United in Diversity." It is to be printed on all material emanating from the European Parliament.

More controversially, the finale from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy, is also to be played more at official occasions.

It has unfortunate associations, having been used previously to celebrate Adolf Hitler's birthday and as the anthem of a socially divided Rhodesia under Ian Smith.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had said that eliminating the use of symbols was a key difference between the EU constitution, which was rejected in French and Dutch referenda in 2005, and the Lisbon Treaty which followed.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has also welcomed their reduced importance, telling the House of Commons last July: "It is good that the symbols, flags and anthems, which distracted attention from the discussion of the European constitutional treaty, are done away with so that we can focus on what will make the EU useful to this country - jobs, climate and energy, the issues that matter to ordinary people."

Mr Farage told The Times: "We were told that the symbols would disappear .. now they are trying to ram them down our throats."

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