The Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) group in the European Parliament, which brought together extreme right MEPs from across the EU, has collapsed after Romanian MEPs left following insulting comments made last week by fellow group member Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of former fascist leader Benito Mussolini, it emerged yesterday.
The announcement, by Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, UK), met with sustained applause in the Strasbourg chamber on 14 November.
The once 24-strong group’s demise was inevitable after the withdrawal of two Romanian MEPs, Daniela Buruianä-Aprodu and Cristian Stanescu, bringing the total number of departures from that country this week to four. A political group needs a minimum of 20 MEPs of six different nationalities in order to sustain itself, and thus ITS no longer exists.
McMillan-Scott said: “I have […] received letters from Mrs Daniela Buruianä-Aprodu and Mr Cristian Stanescu announcing their decision to leave the ITS group […] with effect from today, 14 November 2007.”
“Parliament therefore takes note of the fact that […] as a consequence, the group ceases to exist with effect from the moment of this announcement”.
Socialist MEPs welcomed the group’s demise, and their leader Martin Schulz said: “We are happy that this group, which does not belong in European democracy, has been dissolved”, adding that it was good news that “ultranationalists” could no longer use European taxpayers money to support “xenophobia and neo-fascism”.
Liberal democrat group leader Graham Watson (ALDE, UK) said that ITS’s “inherent radical nationalism” made its implosion inevitable, adding that “they are a casualty of their own philosophy, which […] encourages xenophobic and racist comments […] which have no place in the European Union”.
UK Green MEP Jean Lambert said the group’s end dealt “a welcome blow to the prejudice and bigotry” it promoted, and added that as they were “united only by hatred […] it was only a matter of time before they succumbed to a hatred of each other as well”.
Lambert said that ITS’s dissolution was “great news for the European Parliament and the fundamental and democratic values of tolerance on which the EU is built”, and declared: “We must now […] try and convince those voters who supported these candidates to change their minds at the next European elections.”