S&D chief sees importance of pro-EU camp, hits at Mélenchon

S&D leader Udo Bullmann addresses Greek PM Alexis Tsipras during the latest round of future of Europe speeches in Strasbourg. [European Parliament / Christian CREUTZ]

Europe needs a new vision and new goals, and all true Europeans have to defend EU values in campaigning for next year’s elections and forming a new governance system afterwards, said Udo Bullmann, the leader of the Social Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament.

In an interview with EURACTIV earlier this week, leftist Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis called on all pro-EU forces to team up and protect European democracy from the rising anti-EU extreme-right forces.

“All European democrats should stand up from the couch, as happened with the anti-racism rally in Chemnitz, and look for the path of convergence around common goals both on a political and social level,” Papadimoulis said, insisting that a post-election alliance should range from Greek premier Alexis Tsipras to France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.

Papadimoulis: A broad pro-EU alliance can block EPP right wing-far right entente

The increasing cooperation between the conservative right-wing and the far-right should be a wake-up-call for democrats, who should create a wide pro-EU alliance, from leftist Alexis Tsipras to centrist Emmanuel Macron, Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis told EURACTIV.com in an interview.

Asked by EURACTIV to make a comment on that proposal, Bullmann replied that Papadimoulis was a respected member of the south and a pro-European democrat.

“So I value his assessments a lot. We have regular conversations and all Europeans have to defend EU values when it comes to the campaign and forming a new system of governance,” the German politician said at a press conference on Tuesday (11 September).

“In practice, the question is, do you have a united stance of pro-Europeans from the EPP to GUE? Perhaps not stretching to Mélenchon because he is a backwards-looking nationalist,” he added.

In an interview with EURACTIV last week, leftist chief Gabriele Zimmer (GUE-NGL) also referred to Mélenchon’s case, saying that he has created some “problematic” situations.

“He has to understand that the way he chooses damages other left actors and this is problematic. I expect him to do more together with the other leftist leaders and not attack others [just] because he disagrees,” Zimmer had said.

Macron has also made his intentions clear, saying the EU needs a “progressive” coalition to tackle rising right-wing populism. But it remains unclear what structures will be formed after the May election.

The S&D and the European Left also focus on the need for a “progressive” pro-EU coalition and, following Martin Schulz’s departure, have started collaborating within the current Parliament’s legislation process.

The importance of the south

Bullmann also lashed out against the centre-right EPP, the biggest group in Parliament, saying it was responsible for the anti-growth austerity-driven policies imposed across Europe in recent years.

“We need a new vision, new goals and a common vision for Europe,” he said following a speech held by Greek PM Tsipras.

“I encouraged Tsipras and told him he has allies. There is a progressive government in Portugal, in Spain. They are bold enough to say we will not let these Mediterranean countries go down the pan,” he said.

The German politician also endorsed a “master plan”, coordinated with Portugal’s Antonio Costa and Spain’s Pedro Sanchez, as well as with many Italian politicians.

“You don’t need to talk to Salvini about it, he’s too ignorant, arrogant, I don’t know. But you have a majority in southern Europe for a plan of renovation. They have the clean energy, better agriculture etc,” he replied.

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