Saturday

1st Oct 2016

Focus

Greens reject Beppe Grillo's offer to team up

  • Grillo says the Five Star movement is a 'free association of citizens' and not a political party (Photo: Matteo Pezzi)

The Greens in the European Parliament on Wednesday (4 June) turned down an offer from Italy’s Five Star movement leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo to join the group.

The Green’s secretary general, in a letter addressed to Grillo, said they would not absorb the Italian anti-establishment party and its 17 MEPs.

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Grillo had made the formal request earlier the same day.

The Greens rejected the offer because Grillo is said to be in the final phase of an agreement to join Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic political group, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).

“Exactly for this reason we have doubts that your offer of dialogue with us is a real demand for a discussion or a cover up of a decision already taken,” said Vula Tsetsi, Green secretary general, in her written reply.

Tsetsi noted her group’s priorities and political agenda had no relation to Farage’s eurosceptic programme.

“Our group will not be able to meet you as long as there is no clarity about your relations with the group of Farage,” she added.

The Greens are currently the fourth largest group with 52 deputies, trailing the Liberals by a handful of MEPs.

Nigel Farage’s EFD group on shaky ground

Farage, for his part, had met with Grillo last week where the two expressed “mutual fascination and admiration for each other’s work and campaigning style”.

As EFD chief, Farage is hoping to maintain the mininum criteria required for a European Parliament group.

A group needs to represent at least seven member states and have a minimum of 25 MEPs.

The EFD has 38 MEPs and is, for the moment, the parliament’s smallest group.

But some of EFD’s biggest backers are on the move, including Italy’s Lega Nord, the Finnish Finns party, and Morten Messerschmidt’s Danish People's party.

The Lega Nord, along with Dutchman Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom party (PVV), Austria’s Freedom Party (FPOe), and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang are trying to put a group together headed by Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant Front National party.

The moving around could mean that Farage, who topped the UK polls in the recent EU vote, may not be able to form a political group – needed both for the influence and the cash it brings.

British conservatives ECR set to gain

Meanwhile, EFD’s two Nordic parties are eyeing the anti-federalist conservatives (ECR), which is dominated by the British Tories.

The ECR has 46 MEPs but projected gains could push the group ahead of the Greens.

Messerschmidt told DR Radio on Thursday the ECR would give his party more influence at the Strasbourg assembly.

He shares UK prime minister David Cameron’s vision of a more “flexible” Europe where euro countries can move ahead towards a federal state while others remain sovereign.

ECR is also set to pick up two new MEPs from the Bulgaria without Censorship party, reports Novonite.

Other likely newcomers to the group include German anti-euro AfD party and its seven MEPs.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

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