Le Pen fails to form new political group in European Parliament
National Front leader unable to get necessary support from seven EU countries
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. Photograph: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
National Front leader Marine Le Pen has failed in her bid to form a political group in the European Parliament, having been unable to gain the requisite support of MEPs from seven EU countries.
Ms Le Pen, who had teamed up with Geert Wilders’s Dutch Freedom Party and three other right-wing parties, was unable to secure the support of two more parties over the past four weeks, leaving the National Front without access to funds from the European parliamentary budget and additional speaking time.
Newly-elected MEPs had a deadline of midnight last night to form political groups ahead of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.
A minimum of 25 MEPs from at least seven EU countries is needed to form a political group in the parliament.
Meanwhile, boosted by the defection of Irish MEP Brian Crowley from the liberal group, ALDE, the Tory-led Conservative and Reformists group (ECR) is expected to become the third largest political group in the parliament, overtaking ALDE.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who refused to team up with the French National Front party, secured enough backing to form a group of 48 MEPs, which includes representatives of the Italian protest party, Five-Star Movement.
Among the 11 MEPs from the Republic of Ireland, the four Fine Gael MEPs will be part of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, former Labour Party member Nessa Childers has rejoined the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), while Independent MEP Marian Harkin will be the only Irish MEP in ALDE.
Luke Ming Flanagan has joined the Republic of Ireland’s three Sinn Féin MEPs in the left-wing GUE-NGL group (European United Left and Nordic Green Left) group.
Meanwhile, senior figures from the EPP and S&D groups met in Brussels yesterday for discussions on forming a political majority in the parliament. However, there will be no formal agreement between the two.
The two parties said the EU “must find a solution to the crisis which is not based on the policies of the past”.