Thursday

17th Aug 2017

Five Star seeks to join pro-EU liberal MEPs

  • Grillo sees no future with Nigel Farage (Photo: Optima Italia)

Followers of Italy's most popular party are set to vote online on whether to join the European parliament's liberal and pro-EU Alde party.

The vote follows a surprise announcement on Sunday (8 January) by the founder of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), Beppe Grillo, that he wanted to pull out of the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD).

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.

The anti-establishment party arrived at the European Parliament in 2014 with 17 MEPs, with an aim, among others, to have Italy leave the euro.

It joined the EFDD, which counts Nigel Farage's Ukip among its leading members. It had also, at the time, attempted to join the Greens but was rejected.

Ukip gets dumped

But Grillo in his blog on Sunday said it was time to leave the EFDD because Farage had achieved his ambition for the UK to exit the EU.

"Farage has already abandoned the leadership of his party and British MEPs will leave the European parliament in the next legislature. Until then, our British colleagues will be focused on developing the choices that will determine the UK’s political future," Grillo wrote.

Grillo said it was pointless to remain part of a group without a "common political objective". He also noted the Five Star and Ukip had voted with each other only 20 percent of the time since 2014.

But his desire to join the liberal group headed by pro-EU federalist Guy Verhofstadt is a surprise to many of his supporters, including Farage.

The former Ukip leader, in a statement, described the move as "completely illogical" and said the Italian party was not likely survive with the liberals.

Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and keen supporter of the euro, is now campaigning to become the president of the European Parliament.

An alliance with Five Star would make Alde the third largest in the parliament, after the centre-right EPP and the centre-left Socialists. Alde currently has 68 MEPs.

"This means that in many cases we would hold the balance of power," said Grillo.

It would also make the EFDD the smallest group.

Five Star and Alde have voted together more than 50 percent of the time, according to Votewatch Europe, a Brussels-based NGO. The two diverge the most on issues linked to trade and the economy.

Verhofstadt and Grillo are expected to talk on Monday, and the Alde group to discuss Five Star's bid to join later in the afternoon.

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.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  2. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  3. Russian power most feared in Europe
  4. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  5. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  6. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  7. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  8. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides