The eurosceptic Danish People’s Party, and The Finns party, have left Nigel Farage’s Parliament group, Europe of Freedom and Democracy, which they previously belonged to.
Instead, the two parties have joined the group of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Tories, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the parties confirmed Wednesday evening (4 June).
The MEPs of the Danish People’s Party had stated ahead of the Parliament elections that they wished to join the ECR group. However, during the past few days, British newspapers have speculated that they would be met with a closed door, as Cameron would not want his Conservatives to sit in a group with far-right, extremist parties. But Morten Messerschmidt, the leader of the Danish People’s Party in Parliament, claimed that the approval had been an unanimous decision.
“I promised during the Parliament elections, that I would sit in an influential group, and in the ECR there are two government parties, and therefore we are now at the centre of the parliamentary work,” Messerschmidt told the Jyllands-Posten. ”I see this as a natural step after the good elections result,” he continued.
The Danish People’s Party won the Parliament elections in Denmark and doubled their mandates from two to four seats, while The Finns Party received 13.1% of the votes, won two mandates and became the third-biggest party.
“David Cameron is trying to negotiate a leaner and better EU, and now there is an attempt to seek support for that,” said The Finns’ party leader Timo Soini, according to the national broadcaster Yle. “This economic situation, and the EU’s situation, is bad at the moment, and it needs reform.”
The number of new parties admitted, takes the ECR to 55 MEPs, making the group the third biggest ahead of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The ECR also mentioned on Twitter that further applications are to be considered in coming days. The group is currently also in talks with the German party Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD).
With the latest developments, Farage might even struggle to form a political group, as at least 25 members are needed.
While UKIP won 24 mandates in Britain, only two other parties are currently members of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group. Lithuania’s Order and Justice, with two seats are considering joining the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF), and the Dutch SGP party, with one mandate. Sources from the ECR group told EURACTIV on Thursday that they also expect to confirm the SGP party as a new member next week.
Despite a rise in anti-European parties, political balances remained broadly unchanged in the European Parliament following the elections held between 22 and 25 May, with the centre-right and centre-left parties on track for a grand coalition.
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) won 221 seats in the European parliament, followed by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), with 189 seats (out of 751).
In the last European election, the EPP won 265 seats and the S&D 184. The Parliament was slightly larger at the time, counting a total of 766 seats.
This is the fourth consecutive victory for the EPP since the 1999 election and another disappointment for the Socialists, who failed to reverse the balance of power in Parliament, despite the popular resentment over austerity.
The centrist liberal groups could got 59 seats, Green parties 52 and the right-wing Conservatives and Reformist group, 46.
The far-left obtained 45 seats, while the far-right Europe of Freedom and Democracy group got 38.
The big question mark relates to the 41 Non-attached MEPs and the 60 “other” MEPs who do not yet belong to any political grouping. Most of those belong to populist and extremist parties hostile to European integration.
- 23 June: Deadline for political parties to form groups for the next Parliament term
- May 2015: British parliament elections