Sunday

14th Aug 2022

Green MEPs split on whether to woo Grillo deputies

  • Grillo says the M5S is a 'free association of citizens' and not a political party (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The EP's Green group has formally rejected Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) bid for group membership, but some Green deputies are finding it hard to entirely give up on the idea of 17 extra colleagues.

The M5S, headed up by firebrand leader Beppe Grillo, entered talks last week with Nigel Farage's eurosceptic EFD group.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

These talks prompted the Greens to reject Grillo's subsequent political overtures.

Speaking to EUobserver, Green group leader Rebecca Harms ruled out any parallel negotiations with Grillo and his MEPs.

"To negotiate with Farage is putting the signal that they [M5S] have a completely different agenda than we have," said Harms.

But the door to a deal with the Grillo's people is not entirely shut.

Some among the Greens want to weaken Grillo by poaching some of his MEPs.

Among these is French Green vice-president Michele Rivasi.

In an email sent to the Greens' secretary general on Thursday (5 June) and seen by this website, Rivasi

speaks pragmatically about not wanting to "lose the opportunity to keep being one of the most important groups in the EP".

She recommends sending "constructive signals to the people from the M5S that are denouncing the populist and anti-European drift of their leader".

In her mail Rivasi points out that some of Grillo's 17 MEPs are proposing a political agenda which is closely aligned to the Greens'.

"We need to help them in exposing Grillo's contradictions about Europe. And help them not to join EFD (or maybe ECR), what Grillo is trying to do," she writes.

Part of her plan is to set up and engage in a live debate between Grillo and French Green vice-president Jose Bove.

But the positive signals from some parts of the Green group have irritated others in the group who want nothing to do with a party that is ready to join a eurosceptic faction.

Harms, for her part, said she was not aware of any official or unofficial approach towards any of the MEPs in the M5S.

She noted some members of Grillo's party may have similar ideas when it comes to environmental and social issues, but the fundamentals on European Union integration are different.

No worries in Nigel Farage's camp

Grillo's decision to approach the Greens came as no surprise to the EFD, according its spokesperson.

"We are aware, we were told in advance about all that," said EFD spokesperson, Hermann Kelly.

But some of EFD's biggest backers are set to leave, raising prospects the group may have to dissolve if it doesn't meet the minimum criteria.

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

Italy's Lega Nord, the Finnish Finns party, and Morten Messerschmidt's Danish People's party are all deserting Farage's group.

But Kelly dismissed the concern.

"We've know this about the Danish People's party for about two years and the True Finn's [now known as the Finns] for about 3.5 years so it is no surprise what so ever," he said.

Despite the party departures, Kelly expects to see the EFD expand.

At 38 MEPs, EFD is the parliament's smallest group, but Kelly estimates it will have between 50 and 55 MEPs by the end of next week.

"We are very confident at the minute that we'll actually have a big group between 50 and 55 members and that everything works and it's just a matter now of turning verbal commitments into signatures," he said.

Other possible and likely party candidates to join the EFD for the moment include Lithuania's Order and Justice party with two deputies and the Czech Republic's Free Citizens' party with one.

Greens reject Beppe Grillo's offer to team up

The EP's Greens have rejected a request by Italy's Five Star movement for group membership. Meanwhile Ukip's Farage may have difficulty forming an EP political group.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us