Eurovision Organisers Respond After EU Makes An Official Complaint About This Year's Competition

Malmö Arena, where this year's Eurovision Song Contest took place
Malmö Arena, where this year's Eurovision Song Contest took place JOHAN NILSSON/TT via Getty Images

Eurovision bosses have responded to a complaint made by the European Union’s vice president about this year’s competition.

Last week, the annual song contest took place in Malmö amid a wave of controversy that included calls for a boycott due to Israel’s continued involvement, complaints being made about the behaviour of some delegations and the last-minute disqualification of one act.

Even this year’s winner Nemo called out the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for their “double standards” after the Swiss singer was not permitted to wave the non-binary pride flag in the arena (they smuggled one in anyway, and Eurovision later posted a picture of it to their official Instagram page).

But that’s not the only flag-related issue this year.

Eurovision winner Nemo on stage in Malmö
Eurovision winner Nemo on stage in Malmö Martin Sylvest Andersen via Getty Images

When reports emerged claiming that the flag of the EU was also not allowed in the arena, the union’s vice president Margaritis Schinas filed an official complaint to the EBU.

On Thursday, Schinas revealed he’d already received a response about his complaint, which he shared on X.

“As you rightly note, the Eurovision Song Contest shares the same values of universality, diversity, equality and inclusivity as the European Union itself,” the letter from EBU director general Noel Curran began.

“The EBU has a proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music and in bringing European citizens together, ‘United by Music’. Our goal is to translate our ideals and values into reality, whilst endeavouring to innovate and improve all aspects of the Song Contest, together with the relevant host broadcaster.

“We are proud each year to organise a truly inclusive show that is the most watched (non-sport) entertainment event in Europe.”

The letter went on to insist that there “has never been an express ban on the EU flag at the Eurovision Song Contest”, pointing out that it has been “clearly visible in previous editions”.

“However,” Curran continued, “our general approach to the flags at the venue each year has always been based on a positive, inclusive list of the flags of participating countries only and the rainbow flag.

“It is the case that in 2024, as a result of the sensitive global political context and serious security risks on-site, the list of accepted participating country flags, along with all other security policies, was applied more strictly than ever at the entrance to the venue.”

“We wish to assure you that it was never our intention to discredit the European Union flag as such an important symbol of European unity and solidarity, and we will be sure to revisit our policy for next year.”

The EBU previously took issue with contestants and guest performers making visual displays of solidarity with Palestine during this year’s competition.

Irish act Bambie Thug claimed they were made to remove a message calling for a “ceasefire” in ancient Gaelic from their stage costume, while opening act Eric Saade was rebuked for incorporating a Palestinian keffiyeh into his stage outfit.

Eric Saade on stage during the first semi-final of Eurovision 2024
Eric Saade on stage during the first semi-final of Eurovision 2024 JESSICA GOW/TT via Getty Images

Eric – who is of Palestinian descent – later hit back at the EBU, claiming: “The EBU seem to think that my ethnicity is controversial. It says nothing about me, but everything about them.”

The Portuguese delegation also made an official complaint to the EBU after their performance was uploaded to YouTube later than other acts’, which organisers said was due to “pro-Palestinian elements”.

Portuguese singer Iolanda had sported nail art inspired by the traditional Palestinian keffiyeh for her performance in the final.