James Crisp. Freelance journalist in Brussels.

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Farage’s EU Parliament group faces uncertain future

Nigel Farage. [EU Parliament/Flickr]

Nigel Farage. [EU Parliament/Flickr]

Despite a resounding victory in the UK, Nigel Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group in the European Parliament risks isolation and even extinction without the support of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement, after a wave of defections hit the political grouping led by the UKIP.

The Five Star Movement, who the European Greens rejected as potential partners, has 17 MEPs it could bring to the EFD, which was hit Wednesday (4 June) by defections to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

Five Star are from a country not already represented by the EFD. That is vital because to form a group, the allied parties must consist of 25 politicians from at least seven member states. UKIP alone already has 24 of the 25 MEPs needed to form a group.

Sources told EurActiv they were “extremely confident” that the Five Star Movement would join the new EFD. An announcement was expected next Thursday, they said. Sources at the Five Star Movement in Italy said a vote on whether to join the EFD would take place before the end of the month.

The Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the Finns Party quit the group for the UK Conservative-led ECR. They are expected to be followed next week by Dutch MEP Bas Belder, another former EFD member.  Italy’s Lega Nord has already left for the far right alliance led by France’s Front National.

That leaves the EFD needing five different member state representatives, excluding Five Star, to reform. Lithuania’s Order and Justice is likely to be one of those but there has been speculation could also join the alliance, increasing the far-right parties’ chances of forming a group and securing EU funding.

An EFD spokesman said, “Regarding the Danish People’s Party, we knew this move was coming for some time. I am sure that DPP members are unhappy that they are now in a political family (AECR) which contains the Islamic AK Party of Turkey.

“EFD Group is now very close to having the delegations for a group. We are very confident the total number of members will be between 50 and 55. It is now just a matter of getting firm verbal commitments as written signatures.”

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