Marine Le Pen aims to set up radical, anti-Europe faction in the European parliament with help of Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP
By Martin Banks, Henry Samuel and Alex Spillius
6:05PM BST 16 Oct 2013
The leader of France’s far-Right party has vowed that the European Union would “collapse like the Soviet Union” as she conspired to form what would be the most radical faction yet seen in the European parliament.
Marine Le Pen, buoyed by a weekend by-election triumph in southern France, criticised the EU as a “global anomaly” and pledged to return the bloc to a “cooperation of sovereign states”.
She said Europe’s population had “no control” over their economy or currency, nor over the movement of people in their territory.
“I believe that the EU is like the Soviet Union now: it is not improvable,” she said. “The EU will collapse like the Soviet Union collapsed.”
Ms Le Pen, 45, will next month travel to Holland to chart a joint campaign with Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islamic Freedom Party (PVV) currently tops national opinion polls for May’s European elections.
Together they aim to establish a pan-European, far-Right parliamentary grouping that would run on an anti-immigrant, anti-integration platform. Once in office its overriding aim would be to be as disruptive as possible.
Even ardent European federalists now concede that as much as 30 per cent of the new parliament will comprise Euro-sceptics capitalising on economic misery and record levels of unemployment across Europe.
“If Eurosceptic parties are successful in 2014, this would create the most extreme European parliament ever,” Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democrat MEP, said.
“I’m alarmed at not only their racist and discriminatory attitudes but also their protectionism and hostility to the European single market to which three million British jobs are linked.”
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian PM, urged mainstream parties across Europe to stand firm against the forces of extremism that fuelled the Second World War.
“If we allow these forces to gain a foothold once again on our continent we will have wasted a century of building closer ties and condemned history to repeat itself,” he said.
President François Hollande of France warned this week that the prospect of a significant anti-EU grouping could lead to “regression and paralysis” in Europe, adding that it could threaten the continent’s ability to recover from the after-effects of the crisis in the Eurozone.
Ms Le Pen has already cultivated links with Austria’s far right Freedom Party, which gained 21 per cent of the vote in last month’s general election.
Mr Wilders, whose party was until last year a member of his country’s ruling coalition, has forged links with Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the Democratic Party in Sweden and the Northern League in Italy.
“We want to do whatever we can to turn the forthcoming European elections into a Europe-wide electoral landslide against Brussels,” said Mr Wilders.
The new anti-EU bloc would be to the Right of the existing Eurosceptic group in Brussels, Europe of Freedom and Democracy, which is dominated by the UK Independence Party.
Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, has ruled out any alliance with FN or PVV, saying their views on race and religion were too extreme.
It is predicted Ms Le Pen’s party could win 20 seats or more in May. Forming an official group in the European parliament requires 25 members from at least seven of the union’s 28 states.
Creating such an official faction brings major advantages such as guaranteed speaking time in debates and considerable subsidies.
Ludovic de Danne, Ms Le Pen’s international affairs adviser, said: “She is not wandering alone in the desert. If I were a federalist, I would be very, very frightened.”
In the past Mr Wilders refused to associate with FN because he disapproved of the anti-Semitic remarks of Ms Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Since she replaced her father in January 2011, Ms Le Pen has tried to improve the party’s image and move it into Left-wing territory on social policy and economic protectionism.
Previous attempts at cooperation by the far Right in Brussels have been defeated by national rivalry and policy disagreements.
In 2007, 23 far-right and nationalist MEPs formed a group called Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty. Within months, they had broken up after Alessandra Mussolini, an Italian MEP, insulted the Romanians.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy