Friday

20th Jan 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.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Hollande thinking of EU council bid
  2. Italy to hold 70% of Monte dei Paschi bank
  3. Nato hit by 500 cyberattacks every month
  4. Hundreds of migrants face German security review
  5. Outgoing US vice-president warns Europe on Russia
  6. German far-right party calls for end to WWII guilt
  7. First Chinese freight train arrives in Europe
  8. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'