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Le Pen’s new EU Parliament group to scoop €17.5 million of public money

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EXCLUSIVE/ Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, will today (16 June) announce the creation of Europe of Nations and Freedoms, a new far-right European Parliament group that will qualify for up to €17.5 million of EU money over the next four years.

Le Pen failed to form a group after the European elections last year, despite a surge in support for far-right parties. Her party topped the French vote, returning 24 MEPs.

At least 25 MEPs from seven different countries are needed to form a political group.The new group will include Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom, the Freedom Party of Austria, Italy’s Lega Nord, and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang.

Le Pen did not reveal which MEPs from which countries have joined that core but that news is expected later today. At least two MEPs from two different countries not already linked to the alliance are needed to form the faction.

Parliament sources told EurActiv that at least one of the MEPs are thought to be from Poland’s Congress of the New Right. EurActiv understands that Hungary’s Jobbik party will not be joining because they are too extreme. Some press reports claimed a UK Independence Party member could be joining.

Le Pen announced last night that she would hold a press conference to unveil the faction. Wilders also hinted at an important announcement, according to Dutch media reports.

She said on Twitter, “Tomorrow in Brussels, I will announce the creation of our group, Europe of Nations and Freedom.”

According to research by think tank Open Europe, based on 38 MEPs, the new group could apply for:

  • an annual grant of €2,974,718.39 to set up and run the new group;
  • a grant for a linked pan-European political party;
  • a grant for a linked political foundation or think tank;
  • amounting to €4,442,759.83 every year;
  • or about €17.5 million over the remaining four years of Parliament’s term.

Le Pen had ruled out an alliance with the Congress after the European elections. The Congress’ then-leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke is a racist Holocaust denier.

He infamously described said the difference between rape and consensual sex as “very subtle” and was fined €3,040 for using racist language in the Parliament.

“His [Korwin-Mikke’s] remarks, his political views ran contrary to our values,” she said at the time. But Korwin-Mikke was replaced as leader in January this year by MEP Michal Marusik.

Congress MEP Robert Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz saved the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in October. He propped up the EFDD after Latvia MEP Iveta Grigule left.

The “loan” meant that Nigel Farage’s group represented enough countries to continue as a group and could distance itself from the Congress’ then- leader Korwin-Mikke.

>>Read: Whole story on EurActiv

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2015 by in Best scoops, European elections 2014, Journalism, UKIP and tagged , .

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