Source: New Europe Thursday, 15 March 2012, 23:04
By Andy Carling
There was outrage among MEPs across the political spectrum in February, when the Bureau of the European Parliament, which administers the Parliament and comprises the presidents and MEPs, voted by their peers to join the body, decided to allocate funds to two pan-European political parties that consisted many of the continent’s most extreme partie
The party up for funding was the Alliance of European Nationalist Movements (EAMN), which consists of the Belgian Front National, Hungary’s Jobbik, Italian Tricolour Flame, Portugal’s National Renovator Party, Spain’s Republican Social Movement, Sweden’s National Democrats, Ukraine’s Svoboda and the British National Party. Although Marine Le Pen left the group, Front National MEP Bruno Gollnisch (NI, FR) is the president of the alliance, British MEP Nick Griffin (NI, UK) is vice president and Jobbik’s MEP Béla Kovács is treasurer.
The objections from deputies arose from Article 3(c) of the requirements for meeting funding requirements, stating that a pan-European party “must observe, in particular its programme and in its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”.
Andrew Duff MEP (ALDE, UK) wrote to newly elected Parliament President, Martin Schulz: “I note that the EAMN has no website and does not self-evidently publish its programme, so I must ask how the secretary general and the Bureau came to the conclusion that these qualitative criteria are met.”
Several members of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group also wrote to complain and it is understood that some UK socialist deputies were pushing for all funding to all pan-European parties to be halted for 2012, even though it would heavily hit their own group and the Party of European Socialists.
EPP MEP and secretary general of the party Antonio López-Istúriz strongly criticised the decision at the latest EPP political assembly. It is known that he was infuriated by the decision from the day one.
Many are also furious at Parliamentary officials whose report stated the new far right party met the criteria, leaving Bureau members to believe they had no choice other than to approve the funding.
The decision also set the Bureau against the Parliament’s long record of opposing racism and xenophobia – how can the Parliament be against racism, yet fund parties that spread it, members asked.
Austrian Hannes Swoboda, Socialist group leader, raised the issue at the Conference of Presidents and was successful in asking for a full investigation into the far right alliance’s commitment to the rights in Article 3(c).
This does not mean that the funding has been blocked, but few expect it to go ahead and there is a planned tightening of the rules for applications after 2012.