Beppe Grillo’s Eurosceptic 5 Star Movement today (9 January) voted overwhelmingly to join Guy Verhofstadt’s ALDE Liberal group in the European Parliament in a move that could cost UKIP millions of euros.
The decision, reached by online referendum, leaves the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group, which is dominated by Nigel Farage’s UKIP, perilously close to collapse.
The defection of a single MEP would be enough to spark the dissolution of the EFDD, costing it millions of euros in EU funding. The group, which received about €3.8 million in group funding last year, was already facing the 2019 post-Brexit loss of its UKIP members.
EFDD Group president Nigel Farage MEP said, “Beppe Grillo will now join the Euro-fanatic establishment of ALDE which supports TTIP, mass immigration and an EU Army, but opposes direct democracy.
“5 Star have joined the EU establishment.”
Italy’s maverick 5 Star Movement should cut ties with the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) and consider hooking up with the Liberals in the European Parliament, 5 Star founder Beppe Grillo said yesterday (8 January).
Verhoftstadt, a Euro-federalist, is due to meet Grillo later today to discuss the possible alliance. If they seal the unlikely pact, the ALDE leader could face backlash from pro-EU MEPs.
The fallout could cost Verhofstadt valuable support ahead of next week’s vote for the new European Parliament president.
Verhofstadt is a candidate and launched his campaign Friday (6 January) by promising to stand against populists such as Grillo.
Guy Verhoftstadt officially entered the race to succeed Martin Schulz as president of the European Parliament today (6 January), a decision which could see him step down as the chief MEP on Brexit.
European Parliament groups qualify for extra EU funds and additional speaking time. In order to form a group, a minimum of 25 MEPs from at least seven member states are needed.
The EFDD has 44 MEPs from eight countries. If 5 Star leaves, it will have 27 MEPs representing seven nations. But three of those MEPs represent one country each, meaning that it if one of them was to be tempted away, the group would collapse.
In October 2014, the EFDD came close to collapsing but was rescued after it recruited a polish MEP from a party led by a racist.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament is expected to reform after a Polish MEP from a party led by a racist joined the Eurosceptic faction.