Sunday

13th Oct 2019

MEPs look for ways to defund far-right party

  • Members of the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee have said they aren't obliged to fund parties that don't respect the founding principles of the EU (Photo: European Parliament)

Members of the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee (Afco) have said they are not obliged to fund parties that don't respect the founding principles of the EU, in a hearing with representatives of the Alliance for Peace and Freedom on Thursday (9 February).

Hungarian MEP Gyorgy Schopflin said his centre-right EPP group was committed to freedom of speech, but not to funding parties that represent "ideas directly contrary to the EU".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Stefan Jacobsson (l), Peter Richter (c) and Roberto Fiore (r). (Photo: Aleksandra Eriksson)

"These are legitimate in terms of debate, but not to receive financing from the EU institutions," he said. "The European Parliament decides for itself how it wants to spend its money".

Schopflin is one of two MEPs in charge of the committee's probe into whether the Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) complies with the founding principles of the EU.

Afco's members refer to a parliamentary rule, which says EU money can only go to parties that respect “the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”.

It is the first time the parliament tries to enforce this rule.

Last year, MEPs awarded €600,000 to APF, a pan-EU party founded in February 2015.

Looking for anti-European values

APF brings together parties that have been described as neo-Nazi and fascist: Italy's Forza Nuova, Greece's Golden Dawn, the Party of the Danes, Germany's National Democratic Party (NPD), and Czech anti-Roma DSSS.

Nick Griffin, a Holocaust denier who was expelled from the British National Party for being too extreme, is also a board member.

Marita Ulvskog, a Swedish social democrat, said EU money had financed an APF rally in Stockholm last year, where representatives of different Nazi, fascist and white power movements gathered and sang an "anti-Semitic song blaming terror attacks, the war in Afghanistan, and feminism, on the Jews".

She said APF secretary-general Stefan Jacobson was also the editor of Logik, a publishing house that brought to the Swedish market The Turner Diaries, a book that has been called the "bible of the far-right", and which calls for the extermination of Jews and homosexuals.

She said APF president, Roberto Fiore, a veteran neo-Fascist, was convicted for the 1980 terrorist attacks in Bologna.

Jacobsson said the song was a cover on a humour sketch by Henrik Dorsin, a Swedish comedian.

"I don't think he [Dorsin] hates all the gays. They [rally participants] made fun of the song in a different way," Jacobsson said.

Fiori said he had been falsely implicated in the Bologna bombing and that he will sue Ulvskog, who is covered by parliamentary immunity, for defamation.

He told MEPs they were wrong to stop funding his party, which stands for a "Europe of sovereign nations" and celebrates "Christian values and European cultural heritage" in its programme.

"You cannot say that you have to be a liberal to be part of the [European] family... I know perfectly the spirit of Europe. My wife is Basque and eight of my children were born in the UK. I know you don't agree with our ideas, but it doesn't matter. We are probably saying a lot of things that will become more popular in the future," Fiori, an ex-MEP, said.

"I ask you to have a political consciousness and understand that these ideas are debatable. And because they don't infringe anything at all, they should be respected. We should be treated like any other party," he said.

The European Parliament has been rocked by several scandals related to the misspending of EU money, but APF wasn't one of the parties involved.

Other ways to defund APF

Its representatives said they couldn't be hold responsible for Nazi and fascist ideas in general, or even for the behaviour of their members outside APF activities.

The hearing was part of Afco's probe, which was launched last May. The committee will now seek the opinion of "independent, eminent persons".

The plenary will then vote on whether the APF has complied with the criteria for being recognised as a European political party.

APF's legal representative, Peter Richter, told EUobserver his client had also sued the parliament for cracking down on party funding to far-right parties.

Last December, the parliament's bureau said some parties, including APF, must have a top-rated bank to back the application of parties, in case they spend their funds improperly.

Richter told this website APF had not been able to secure a bank guarantee and that it had filed a lawsuit against the parliament with the EU general court in Luxembourg.

MEPs crack down on funding for far right

Four eurosceptic and far-right parties will receive less money up front and will have to present bank guarantees, in a crackdown on misuse of funds after several scandals.

French EU nominee loses vote and is out

France's nominee for EU commissioner lost the vote on her candidacy, with 82 MEPs against and 29 in favour, after hard questions in a second hearing.

News in Brief

  1. Italy: EU cannot accept Turkish 'blackmail'
  2. Is a Brexit deal still possible?
  3. EU and UK to 'intensify' Brexit talks
  4. Norway hit by train strike over EU regulations
  5. Macron says he warned von der Leyen on Goulard
  6. France: EU will retaliate in aviation state aid battle
  7. EU considers new rules and agency against dirty money
  8. France against accession talks for North Macedonia, Albania

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us