Monday

16th Jan 2017

Focus

Tories 'very disappointed' about teaming up with Merkel adversaries

The Tory-dominated, anti-federalist group in the European Parliament (ECR) on Thursday (12 June) accepted the membership of seven German MEPs from the anti-euro Alternative fuer Deutschland, a move likely to be a further irritant in German-British relations.

The AfD was founded last year and its central platform is to challenge the "no alternative to the euro" policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Merkel and Cameron have been at odds over who should be the next EU commission president (Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Kugler)

Merkel had reportedly asked Cameron to prevent AfD from joining his MEPs in the ECR group. But his party members were outnumbered by Polish and other members of the ECR group.

A spokesman for the British Conservatives pointed to the very close vote: 29 in favour, 26 against the AfD membership. There are 19 Tory MEPs in the ECR group.

"We are very disappointed that AfD have been admitted into the ECR against our wishes. We note that the vote was a close one. We will work with the AfD in the European Parliament, but the CDU/CSU remains our only sister party in Germany," the spokesman said.

But Hans-Olaf Henkel, one of the leading figures in the AfD, praised the Tory MEPs for "supporting the AfD despite massive pressure from their leadership in London and despite massive intervention from Chancellor Merkel".

A spokesman for Chancellor Merkel in Berlin declined to comment on the ECR developments, which he deemed as "interesting, but in any case a political party matter".

Britain's Labour opposition interpreted the goings-on as weakening Cameron.

"Once again David Cameron's MEPs are undermining Britain's ability to reform the EU and their own prime minister's negotiating hand," said Glenis Willmott, the leader of Labour MEPs in the Parliament.

"At the time the British people need their politicians to be exerting influence in Europe, the Tories are isolating themselves from the mainstream," Willmott added.

When Cameron came to power in 2009, one of his first EU moves was to split from the federalist, centre-right European People's Party - the largest group in the European Parliament, dominated by Angela Merkel's Christian-Democrats (CDU/CSU).

Cameron needs Merkel's support in his opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next commission president.

But at a retreat in Sweden earlier this week, Merkel restated her support for Juncker and said she does not like "threats" - a veiled reference to Cameron's warning that if Juncker gets the job, British people will have one more reason to vote for their country to leave the EU.

The ECR meanwhile might become the third-largest group after the EPP and the centre-left S&D. With the seven German deputies and a Bulgarian MEP, the ECR now has 63 MEPs.

The Liberals are on course to have 63 MEPs too, but ten of them are still uncertain. The cut-off date for MEPs joining groups is 24 June.

ECR members also voted for British MEP Syed Kamall to become chairman of the group, after their previous leader lost his seat in the May elections.

Kamall is the first Muslim to lead the group, which includes Danish and Finnish members who have expressed anti-Islam views in the past.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Oxfam: Wealth of eight same as half world's population
  2. Turkish MPs back Erdogan power-grab
  3. Controversial Danish 'jewellery law' used four times
  4. Serbian president threatens to deploy troops to Kosovo
  5. Facebook in fake news crack down in Germany
  6. Number of lone minors coming to Italy doubles
  7. Kosovo's ex-PM released in France
  8. US accuses Fiat of secretly exceeding emissions standards

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  3. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  4. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  5. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  6. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  7. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  8. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  9. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  10. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey
  11. Zero Waste EuropePublic Support Needed to Promote Zero Waste in More Municipalities
  12. Belgrade Security ForumEU Cannot Afford to Ignore the Western Balkans as Populism Surges