June 14. 2024. 1:32

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Meloni, Orbán, Le Pen back Spanish far right in ‘battle against Brussels’

The Prime Ministers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni (Fratelli d’Italia/ECR) and Hungary, Viktor Orbán (Fidesz/ID), and the leader of France’s Rassemblement National (RN/ID), Marine Le Pen, joined forces in Madrid on Sunday to boost the chances of the far-right VOX party, the third largest force in the Spanish parliament, ahead of the European elections in June.

Meanwhile, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which includes VOX and Fratelli d’Italia, presented the bulk of its manifesto in the Spanish capital over the weekend as part of the Europa VIVA 24 event organised by the Spanish “ultra” party.

The defence of a “robust and sovereign Europe”, much less red tape from Brussels, strengthening border security and revising the Green Pact are some of the priorities for the ECR ahead of June.

The presentation of ECR’s manifesto and VOX’s programme for the EU political race attracted a great deal of media attention. The controversial “libertarian” President of Argentina, Javier Milei, a personal friend of VOX leader Santiago Abascal, and Le Pen were present in Madrid.

Meloni and Orban took part in the Europa VIVA 24 event via videoconference.

‘Raise the stakes’ ahead of the ‘joint battle

“We are on the eve of a decisive election (…). It is time for mobilisation, to take to the streets. It’s time to raise the stakes, we must fight until the last day,” Meloni stated in her video address.

“Dear Spanish friends, we patriots must occupy Brussels,” said Orban in his message.

Orban described the campaign for the European elections as a “great common battle” against Brussels, which he said was “unleashing mass illegal migration” and “poisoning our children with gender propaganda”, EFE reported.

According to him, VOX politicians and activists are “dedicated fighters” who can help “make Europe great again”, a reference to former US president Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.

Neither Meloni nor Le Pen clearly advocated unity between the various far-right factions in the European Parliament, which seems unlikely. However, according to polls, if it were to happen, they could become the second-largest group in the European Parliament after the European People’s Party (EPP).

“Your party, VOX, embodies the Spanish patriotic movement that I know I can count on at the European level to revive Europe,” Le Pen stressed, continuing: “There are many of us today who want to change the direction of the European Union, and there will be even more of us on 9 June,” Le Pen said.

She added: “If the European Commission were to take away the sovereignty of European nations once and for all, the consequences would be cataclysmic for the future of our country.”

Le Pen, who has accused Meloni of being prepared to vote for the re-election of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, nevertheless expressed a clear desire to work with VOX in the European Parliament.

She accused the current president of the European Commission and his allies of wanting an EU “subjugated in uniformity”: “We are the defenders of Europe, and they are its destroyers,” Le Pen warned.

ECR and ID in the core of the ‘ultra’ forces

The two groups that are home to the “ultra” formations in the European Parliament are the ECR where in addition to VOX, Fratelli d’Italia or the Polish Law and Justice party, PiS, sit, and Identity and Democracy (ID), home to RN, Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Matteo Salvini’s Lega.

The latest Europe Elects projection for Euractiv gives the ECR and the ID 83 MEPs each, a significant increase from the 73 ID will get in the 2019 elections and the current 62 for the ECR; they would come fourth and fifth, just behind the 85 seats expected for the liberals of Renew Europe, which would drop from its 108 seats in 2019 but remain in third place.

Meloni is the current president of the ECR, and the group’s Vice President is Spanish VOX MEP Hermann Tertsch. The head of the VOX delegation to the European Parliament is MEP Jorge Buxadé.

In the election manifesto, the ECR expresses its “firm commitment to the preservation of national identity, the security of citizens and the strengthening of borders”, among other points.

In addition, the ECR group proposes reforming the European Union “to respect and safeguard the sovereignty of member states and their traditions” while rejecting the “unnecessary centralisation of power in Brussels.” It also calls for a “robust European defence”, reinforcing military support for Ukraine and increasing the defence budgets of all partners in line with NATO’s call for 2% of GDP.

Moreover, the manifesto reads that the ECR calls for “a comprehensive migration strategy” to secure the EU’s borders, which would include, among other initiatives, granting asylum in Europe “only” to “genuine refugees”.

The ECR group also wants a review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and advocates strengthening the “Farm to Fork” strategy, as well as revising the Green Pact to prioritise the “socio-economic welfare” of the sector.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.Euractiv.es)

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