June 14. 2024. 2:02

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All eyes on EU liberals as coalition with far-right tests campaign promise

In today’s edition

  • Will the EU liberals stick to their promise to keep the far-right at bay?
  • Bits of the week: Voice of Europe to be sanctioned; EU Council wants to reassess tools to battle foreign interference after elections; new projections; Renew’s Hayer in trouble for selfie with neo-nazis.

Having made the fight against the far-right one of the centrepieces of the EU liberals’ campaign, it remains to be seen how they will react to the far-right joining forces with Dutch liberals in a new government in the Netherlands. Will they be true to their word?

After criticising the centre-right European People’s Party for its government coalition agreements with far-right parties in Italy, Finland, and Croatia, the liberals are now facing the far-right surge in their own home.

One of their member parties, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD party, is joining forces with Geert Wilders’ far-right PVV in a new government.

Another liberal party, Sweden’s Liberalerna, already signed a coalition agreement with the far-right in 2022 but kept the party out of government.

In comments to Euractiv, the secretary-general of ALDE, VVD’s European political family, said they are monitoring the situation and awaiting further developments: “We are not going to judge a national party, we judge the actions of a party”, Didrik de Schaetzen said.

“We want to make sure that our values are defended, VVD in government will ensure that our values are being respected and that the rule of law is going to be maintained,” he argued, adding: “We have monitoring schemes to make sure that none of our values are being transgressed.”

He pointed out that this coalition agreement does not change the party’s determination not to work with the far-right at the EU level.

Meanwhile, France’s Valérie Hayer, the leader of Renew group, bringing together ALDE and other liberal parties in the European Parliament, has said that “compromising with the extreme right is not acceptable,” also announcing on X that she will “call a meeting with all the group’s member parties on 10 June”.

Renew’s internal procedures make clear that MEPs can be kicked out by secret ballot, but the motion needs to be put forward by the group’s presidency, the group’s bureau, or a group of MEPs representing at least five national delegations and a third of the entire group.

The European Democratic Party, a faction of Renew Europe, expressed its “total disagreement” with the developments in the Hague.

“In contradiction to ALDE’s commitments”

The Socialists and Greens have also been quick to voice their concerns.

She demanded that ALDE and Renew make sure there are “consequences for their Dutch member party” decision to ally with the far-right, “which has historical significance”.

Meanwhile, the Socialists and Democrats group President Iratxe García told Euractiv that they “expect a strong stance from Renew,” highlighting that “it’s up to Renew to decide its position, where it stands, and whether it respects the declaration as a group”.

Just a week ago, Socialists, Greens, Liberals, and Left parliamentary groups signed a declaration promising to keep the far-right at bay “at any level” – which the conservative EPP, the biggest parliamentary group, refused to sign.

Bits of the week

Renew’s Hayer in trouble for selfie with neo-nazis. The president of Renew Europe group and lead candidate of French President Emmanuel Macron’s Besoin d’Europe coalition, Valérie Hayer, got into trouble last week for a selfie she inadvertently took with neo-Nazis, one of them wearing a ‘The White Power’ shirt. After backlash on social media, she reacted: “It’s a trap set for me by activists from a tiny neo-Nazi group. I obviously didn’t have time to see the racist inscriptions on their outfits. These are disgraceful methods, those of the extreme right, which I condemn with all my might and will fight relentlessly,” Hayer said in a post on X.

EU to rubberstamp sanctions on Voice of Europe. The controversial media Voice of Europe – at the epicentre of an alleged pro-Russian propaganda network that media reports say pays European politicians to spread propaganda ahead of June’s elections – will soon be added to the EU’s sanction lists, Commissioner Vera Jourova said on X. If no member states oppose it, the decision will be officially adopted on Friday (17 May). While Voice of Europe was down after Czechia sanctioned it in March, the media is currently back online from Kazakhstan. Its inclusion in the sanctions list means it will not be allowed to offer its services within the EU.

Foreign interference: Von der Leyen campaign promises vs EU countries’ pragmatism. After June’s EU elections, the EU Council is expected to ask EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the Commission to audit the effectiveness of existing mechanisms and tools to combat foreign interference and influence and “report on any issues and gaps identified (…) so that they can be rectified,” according to the final EU Council conclusions on democratic resilience to be approved in the coming days. This pragmatic approach, seeking to focus on the available tools, opposes Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s ambitions to build up new ‘structures’ at the EU level to combat foreign interference, which she announced on Tuesday (14 May). Read the full story.

New projections: Check out Europe Elects’ latest mid-May projections for Euractiv, freshly posted.

NatCon closure goes to court. MCC Brussels, a Hungarian think tank that co-organised the NatCon Euroscpetic conference in Brussels, said it intends to sue Emir Kir, the mayor of Saint Josse who gave the order to close down the event, on the grounds of freedom of speech.

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Read more with Euractiv

RussiaGate: German police search premises of leading far-right politician

RussiaGate: German police search premises of leading far-right politician

On Thursday (16 May), German authorities searched the premises of Petr Bystron, a top candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany in June’s EU election, to investigate alleged bribes by Russian officials.

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