Tuesday

26th Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Focus

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.

Bank agency shuns EU invitations

The EU's banking agency is not visiting cities that want to host the agency post-Brexit "to ensure objectivity". The medicines agency has no such qualms.

Investigation

EU bank accused of muzzling watchdog

An ongoing review of the the European Investment Bank's "complaints mechanism" could make the oversight branch less independent and less effective.

May seeks EU grace period

Eagerly awaited Brexit speech was short on details, but May pledged to honour financial commitments while calling for a two-year transition deal after the UK left.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel