Marine Le Pen fails to form conservative group in EU parliament

Marine Le Pen has failed to find support in the minimum of seven European Union countries for her conservative group, the European Alliance for Freedom.

Le Pen and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party did not gain enough allies to qualify as a single caucus in the new European parliament, which now denies them access to funding and extra speaking time. They would also not be able to serve on committees.

Following European parliamentary elections last month, won by Le Pen’s Front National, the various parties had until Monday midnights to form a group comprising at least 25 MEPs from at least seven countries.

The Le Pen-led grouping includes Wilders’ Freedom party, the Austrian Freedom Party, Italy’s Liga Nord and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. Le Pen and Wilders easily easily exceeded the minimum seats required, the European Alliance for Freedom was two countries short of the required seven.

Wilders and Le Pen said they refused to collaborate with a new party of the extreme right in Poland, viewed as antisemitic but also certain to clash with Wilders’ and Le Pen’s views on immigration to their countries from eastern Europe.

The Polish New Right Congress – which advocates abolishing women’s voting rights – and the Lithuanian Order and Justice parties said they refused to join the Le Pen group.

The Lithuanian party preferred to join British Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy parliamentary group.

Yesterday, the Front National declared that it failed to muster a full-sized European parliamentary group as it had not wanted to ally itself with parties demonstrating incompatible values.

Florian Philippot, the party’s vice-president, told the French radio station Europe 1: “We were several parties, but we needed to come from seven countries and this time it didn’t work.”

Philippot also said to Reuters: “We have no group, for the time being at least. But our deputies, who are more numerous than any other party in the French delegation, will be there to defend France under any circumstances, with or without a group.”

Ludovic de Danne, Le Pen’s European spokesman, tweeted: “Never mind the betrayals and media agitation. We and our allies will build a solid and coherent political group later.”

The new 751-seat European assembly sits for the first time next week.

Subsidies for political groups in the European parliament are substantial. The European Alliance for Freedom could have received up to €22m for operational expenses.

In its media release yesterday, the Front National stated:

“We regret it in the short term, but we take responsibility for our moral and political choice in the long term.

Convinced that it will be possible for us to form this group shortly, we are committed from the very first session in Strasbourg on 1 July to our struggle as patriots for our sovereignty, our identity and our liberty. We shall continue in parallel and with the greatest determination, our negotiations with several parties in Europe so as to constitute this greater formation in favour of sovereignty in the European parliament.”