Tuesday

15th Oct 2019

New EU political group open to Libertas members

  • An EU election video booth - the new group will unveil its name and composition after 7 June (Photo: EUobserver)

An emerging anti-federalist political group in the European Parliament would be open to take in Libertas members, if the anti-treaty party is unable to form a group itself.

The British Conservative party, the Czech Republic's ODS and Poland's Law and Justice party are currently in talks with several smaller parties to form a new anti-EU integration group after the elections next month.

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

The new group aims to unveil its name and full membership shortly after the election result on 7 June.

Jan Zahradil, the head of the ODS delegation in Brussels, told EUobserver on Thursday (14 May) that more than four smaller parties have already signed up, but do not want to go public yet.

"They are junior parties, the kind that might get one, two or three MEPs in the elections," he said.

The junior parties come from both 'old' and 'new' member states. Some of them are in the existing, right-leaning European People's Party (EPP-ED) and Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN) groups in parliament and some have never sent MEPs to Brussels before, the Czech politician revealed.

The new group expects to get at least 65 MEPs, which would make it the fourth largest in parliament.

Mr Zahradil said the group is also interested in taking in MEPs from the Libertas party, if Libertas politicians find themselves stranded after the EU vote.

"I believe we can negotiate on some of the political issues that are now being discussed within Libertas. My feeling is, they will not make it in seven countries. If they cannot establish their own group, in my opinion this [taking in Libertas MEPs] is perfectly negotiable," he said.

"I assume they wouldn't want to be 'non-inscrit'."

Under EU rules, a political movement has to have at least 25 MEPs coming from seven EU countries in order to form a "group." Group status gives the right to good places in parliament committees, access to meetings of top officials, more speaking time in plenary and greater financial resources.

Independent, or 'non-inscrit,' MEPs are usually condemned to obscurity.

Fitting in

Any potential link-up with Libertas, seen as a dangerous upstart by the EU establishment, might prove tricky for the British Conservatives and Poland's Law and Justice. Both parties see themselves as part of the political mainstream despite their anti-integrationist views.

A spokesman for the British Conservative EU delegation said it "does not give a running commentary" on the new group's formation. Law and Justice also declined to speak.

But Mr Zahradil said that some of Libertas' ideas fit in with the new group's agenda.

Both sides dislike the Lisbon treaty and oppose further transfer of national sovereignty to the EU, he explained. "If the Lisbon treaty did not come into force due the German court or the Irish referendum, we could live with that. The EU does not need this treaty," the Czech politician said.

The German constitutional court is currently debating the compatibility of the treaty with German law. It also faces a second referendum in Ireland, expected in October.

Mr Zahradil ruled out co-operation with any of the more controversial Libertas figures, however.

Czech Libertas candidate Vladimir Zelezny was this week convicted on tax evasion charges. The recent former head of Poland's far-right League of Polish Families party, Wojciech Wierzejski, is running for Libertas in Poland.

"We are not going to negotiate with people like the League of Polish Families," Mr Zahradil said.

Asked if Libertas' leader, Irish businessman Declan Ganley, would be welcome in the new group, the Czech politician cast doubt on Mr Ganley's intention to become an MEP if elected. "The question is, how serious he is in his own running," Mr Zahradil said.

In full swing

For its part, Libertas denied making any contingency plans for failure in the EU vote.

"Our sights are firmly set on forming a Libertas group within the European Parliament," a spokeswoman told this website. "We are not considering other options."

Libertas is this week making headlines across eastern Europe after paying Polish anti-Communist hero and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa to speak at its rallies in Rome and Madrid.

Mr Walesa in Madrid on Thursday voiced support for the Lisbon treaty and at the same time wished the anti-treaty party "success" for the sake of pluralism in EU debate.

"I'm here to talk about freedom and democracy, to say, we are building Europe together, that there is a place for everybody," he said. "I would talk with the devil himself, just to tell him, that I love God."

EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey

EU states have agreed to stop arms sales to Turkey over its invasion of Syria, marking a nadir in relations with their Nato ally. In response, Ankara mocked the decision as a "joke".

Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms

Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds over their role in Catalonia's 2017 bid for independence. The possible legal immunity of some MEPs remains unanswered.

EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem

EU foreign ministers are meeting to find a common position on the Turkish invasion in Syria. However, events are evolving quickly, as Kurdish forces asked the Syrian army to protect them.

Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban

Budapest joins Istanbul and Warsaw by having an opposition mayor to a strongman illiberal leader, after a united opposition serves a shock blow across several towns in local elections in Hungary.

Opinion

New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers

A controversial counterterrorism bill could end up criminalising aid workers in the Netherlands if they enter conflict hotspots when assisting the world's most vulnerable people.

Investigation

EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret

Time is running out for chlorpyrifos, the pesticide which is a cause of brain damage to human fetuses and newly-born children. The EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both stated approval should not be renewed.

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

Latest News

  1. EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey
  2. Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms
  3. Poland's right-wing ruler wins four more years
  4. EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem
  5. Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban
  6. New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers
  7. EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret
  8. Brexit nail-biter and EU nominations This WEEK

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