Farage’s Eurosceptic group collapses, Sakharov prize winner postponed

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Nigel Farage’s Eurosceptic group in the European Parliament collapsed on Thursday following the withdrawal of Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule.

With Grigule’s exit, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group no longer qualifies as such, as it does not have a minimum number of MEPs from at least 7 EU member states.

Farage’s blow comes only days after UKIP won its first seat in the House of Commons.

“We had to take note during the meeting that one parliamentarian group, the EFDD group is no longer existing because one member from Latvia left the group and they have now only members from 6 countries, not sufficient to build a group,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

The EFDD group had 48 members, more than half from the UK Independence Party. It also includes Italy’s Five Star Movement, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo.

The EFDD’s collapse has also forced MEPs to postpone a decision on the winner of the Sakharov Prize for 2014. Among the nominees is the Ukrainian ‘EuroMaidan’ movement, seen by many as “the largest pro-European rally in history.”

“The decision about the Sakharov Prize is postponed to next Tuesday, not by political reasons, simply by administrative reasons,” Schulz said. “So we have a complete different composition next Tuesday in the Conference of President, and therefore we will take the decision next Tuesday.”

The Sakharov prize, awarded each year by the European Parliament, was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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