April 18. 2024. 1:57

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The Brief – EU far-right, rightly incapable of having a manifesto

All European political parties have been drafting EU election manifestos these days and, with or without disagreements, will soon come up with an election plan, except for the far-right Identity and Democracy, which will rely on a vague two-page declaration from 2022.

“No ID manifesto is planned, as our programme was already formulated when the group was founded in 2019 and in the Antwerp Declaration,” ID group vice-president and member of the German AfD, Gunnar Beck, told Euractiv.

The grouping of nationalists seems content, fighting for their particular national interests while using the advantages of a parliamentary group to “roll back” the European project.

Their marriage of convenience is also shown by their recurring refusal to impose any group-voting discipline: Each national party still votes according to its own agenda.

“Members have the right to vote according to their conscience, national party program […] the chief whip shall ensure the highest political coherence possible between the National Delegations during votes”, the ID group’s statute reads.

Politically, their only connecting element is the desire to block further EU integration and push for the return of power to the national capitals.

However, their “political realism” in the modern multipolar world is unrealistic. The rejection of Europe’s common defence, for example, is closer to “political surrealism”.

While most EU leaders now speak of the need to boost the continent’s collective defence capabilities, Andrea Kotarac, spokesperson of the French Rassemblement National (RN), told Euractiv: “As the defence of our territory is at the heart of the sovereignty of the state, it cannot be delegated”.

Referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kotarac spoke of scenarios that recall a return to the Great Powers era after World War two, stressing France’s nuclear arsenal and its seat at the UN Security Council as a “guarantor of peace on the continent”.

“After the Second World War, Stalin and de Gaulle had to hold talks to guarantee peace on the continent. However, I don’t believe that de Gaulle was a Stalinist or Stalin a Gaullist. As great powers, we must assume our responsibilities,” Kotarac said.

For the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose rise in polls makes political pundits uneasy, the main focus is on Europe’s need to detach itself from the US foreign policy priorities that cost Europeans “trade relations in the European-Asian region”, with a ‘Germany first’ twist.

“A defensible Germany is indispensable for our sovereignty and security in a fundamentally changing world,” AfD’s election manifesto reads.

Therefore, that a band of European nationalists should not have a common election plan should not sound bizarre – they all admit to having different interests.

A debate trying to find common grounds would be a waste of time and even counter-productive, considering that voters might see their political nakedness exposed.

However, as the dream of a grand union of the Parliament’s far-right is still bubbling, it remains to be seen if a common manifesto will still emerge before the elections in June.

* Kjeld Neubert contributed to this Brief.

The Roundup

Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition activist and key critic of Vladimir Putin, died in a penal colony on Friday, the Russian prison service reported.

If anyone had any hesitation about whether Russia was a ‘demokratura’ or a totalitarian regime, the answer today – following the death in prison of opposition leader Alexei Navalny – is clear.

The EU will have to double its military support to Ukraine to fill a gap left by the United States after months of blockage of new aid by Congress, an authoritative research institute that monitors Western assistance to Kyiv said on Friday.

A month before Russia’s presidential election, certain to be won again by Vladimir Putin, the country’s anti-war opposition in exile admits that it is unable to influence the results but hopes the West will “do the right thing”.

Backing a call from Ireland and Spain, 78 members of the European Parliament representing a majority of political groups stated they would support a revision of the EU-Israel Association Agreement over Tel Aviv’s breach of human rights obligation in Gaza, according to a letter obtained by Euractiv.

The Belgian Presidency failed to garner the necessary support from member states to agree a new platform work directive on Friday, effectively shelving the proposal, after more than two years of negotiations.

The withdrawal of the Water Resilience Initiative from the European Commission’s agenda has raised fears among environmental NGOs that Europe’s climate ambitions will be scaled back.

In a bid to appease farmers’ discontent, Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas announced he will call on the European Commission to update the EU’s directive on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.

Political momentum is swaying in favour of European solar panel manufacturers, as work progresses on a new EU law banning forced labour practices that would effectively block Chinese imports.

Ursula von der Leyen’s green push has made her more popular with political opponents in her native Germany than with her own conservative CDU. The tricky relationship reinforces pressure for her to campaign against her own record as she is expected to announce her second-term bid on Monday.

For more policy news, check out this week’s Economy Brief, Tech Brief, and the Agrifood Brief.

Look out for…

  • Munich Security Conference on Friday-Sunday.
  • Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis participates in Strategic Dialogue organised by Federation of German Industries in Munich on Saturday.
  • CDU party meeting in Berlin on Monday
  • Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.