25th Oct 2016


Anti-federalists nose ahead of liberals in EP

  • Flemish flags: The N-VA said Alde's mix of regionalism and federalism was 'hard to digest' (Photo: Chris Tank)

The Flemish separatist N-VA party has opted to join the anti-federalist ECR group instead of the liberal Alde faction in the European Parliament.

Its decision is to see the ECR become the third largest in the assembly with 68 MEPs, beating Alde (67) and winning more speaking time in plenary and a better choice of committee seats.

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.

N-VA announced the move late on Wednesday (18 June).

Its head of EU affairs, Johan Van Overtveldt, said in a statement the vast majority of N-VA members voted for ECR, a sizeable chunk for the Green group, and very few for Alde.

He noted the ECR is a “realistic” group.

“We reject the idea of ​​a European superstate, but at the same time we do not want to be completely negative [about the EU]. We are positive-critical of the European Union. In that regard, we are on the same wavelength.”

He said the N-VA would battle for human rights, fiscal discipline, and the creation of a banking union on the EU scene.

He added that Alde’s ideas were “difficult to digest” because its “euro-federalism” put in doubt the future of nation states in Europe.

For his part, Alde leader and former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt told Belgian media the N-VA move is “not good for the European project”.

He described the ECR, which is led by the British Tories, as “eurosceptic, if not anti-European” because it contains “far-right” elements like the True Finns and “populists” like the Danish People’s Party and the anti-euro Alternatif fur Deutschland.

He noted he had “extended his hand” to N-VA and “cleared all the obstacles” for it to join Alde.

The Belgian press described the N-VA decision as a “humiliation” for Verhofstadt.

His Open VLD party had on Tuesday voted in favour of N-VA’s Alde membership despite their diametrically opposed views on the unity of Belgium.

Verhofstadt also called a press conference on Wednesday expecting to announce that N-VA had come on board. But he was forced to cancel it before the bad news broke.

All political factions in the EP have to be formed by 24 June, after which committee membership and chairs will be decided.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion