MEPs welcome fall of far-right group
14.11.07 @ 17:28
BRUSSELS - MEPs from mainstream political groups in the European Parliament have welcomed the breaking up of the House's far-right faction, which fell apart over a dispute linked to recent immigration tensions in Italy.
The break-up of the Identity, Tradition Sovereignty group was formally announced – to some applause - in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (14 November) after five Romanian MEPs abandoned the faction.
The exodus of the 'Greater Romania' politicians meant that there were no longer enough members for the ITS to qualify as group under the assembly's rules, which require 20 MEPs from six member states.
Almost immediately the reactions of other MEPs started pouring in.
"We are happy that this group, which does not belong in European democracy, has been dissolved," said German MEP Martin Schulz, head of the socialists.
"The good news is that the [group] of the ultra-nationalists no longer exists and cannot use the money of the European taxpayer to support its xenophobia and neo-fascism," he said in a statement.
"This collection of unsavoury European politicians were united only by hatred - be it of other races, nationalities, sexualities or, ironically, the EU - and it was only a matter of time before they succumbed to a hatred of each other as well," said Green MEP Jean Lambert.
The fissures in the group - which was also home to Flemish, French and Austrian far-right MEPs - started to show last week after comments made by Italian Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Reacting to the recent murder of an Italian woman, where the suspect is thought to be a Romanian of Roma origin, Ms Mussolini told a Romanian newspaper that: "Breaking the law has become a way of life for Romanians. However, it is not about petty crimes, but horrifying crimes, that give one goose bumps."
The Romanian members of the group reacted with fury to the statement, seemingly also because Ms Mussolini did not distinguish between Romanians and the Roma, the minority community towards which the Greater Romania party has been accused of racism in the past.
"The straw that broke the camel's back," said Romanian MEP Eugen Mihaescu, according to AFP, was the "unacceptable amalgam" Ms Mussolini made "between criminal gypsies and the entire Romanian population."
Reacting to the group's implosion, liberal leader Graham Watson said: "They are a casualty of their own philosophy which paints all foreigners into a single mould and encourages xenophobic and racist comments and remarks which have no place in the European Union."
The break-up means members of the former ITS group will no longer have the greater speaking and administrative rights as well as access to tax payers money that comes with being in a political group.