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Budapest

Hungary turns down Salvini offer to join EP ‘supergroup’

Hungary will not join Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in the European Parliament, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas.

Published: June 3, 2019, 10:02 am

    Gulyas held a press conference to explain that Fidesz will remain a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) despite having been suspended from the group in March, Reuters reported.

    “We respect the Italian deputy prime minister and the Italian government and the result, which made the Northern League Italy’s strongest party after the European Parliament election,” Gulyas said, but added: “Nonetheless, I see not much chance for a co-operation on a party level or in a joint parliamentary group.”

    According to Gulyas, the group already contained members that Hungary could not co-operate with.

    The announcement comes after months of speculation on a potential alliance between Orban and Salvini after the Hungarian leader in August last year called Salvini his “hero” for stopping illegal migrants coming to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.

    At a joint meeting in May, Orban once again praising Salvini in an interview with Italian media and saying he thought he was “the most important person in Europe today”.

    But Gulyas said the Hungarian government’s controversial decision to put the new court system on hold would improve the country’s position in the EU. He said Hungary must be careful not to allow fears concerning the independence of the courts to be raised.

    The PM’s office chief it would not be to Fidesz’s disadvantage to remain part of the EPP family. Gulyas indicated that by withdrawing the law on the administrative courts, Hungary would ease growing tensions with Brussels.

    Asked whether the withdrawal of the law was a quid pro quo for naming current justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi as Hungary’s next European commissioner, Gulyas however replied “no”. He said no decision has yet been made concerning the justice ministry’s new head.

    Asked about the government’s preferred choice of commission head, Gulyas said that Hungary was not keen on either of the two lead candidates. In the closing statement of the EU summit, Gulyas noted, it was stated that the candidate should garner the support a qualified majority of member states, adding that this applied to neither of the two lead candidates.

    It would consider any other candidate, he said, adding that the candidate should preferably be an EPP member. Gulyas added that Michel Barnier, the commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, would be acceptable to the Hungarian government.

    Following the suspension of Fidesz from the EPP, Orban suggested that his party would consider other parties in Europe to forge new alliances, including Salvini’s Lega party: “Hungary is too small to enforce its opinion in Europe. Media, NGOs, universities in Europe are all against us and can destroy us. That’s why we need strong allies,” he explained.

    Salvini’s “supergroup” has suffered another setback with a source telling British tabloid The Sun that talks on bringing in Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party, broke down.

    Farage has reportedly walked out of talks with Salvini and Marine Le Pen after he allegedly said he would sign up his Brexit Party’s 29 MEPs — the joint largest single party in Brussels after last week’s elections — only if he became leader.

    Salvini and Le Pen are also said to be worried that Farage may have to leave the Parliament soon if Britain quits the bloc on October 31.

    “The eurozone elites are looking straight down the barrel of an Italian economic revolt and a parallel currency,” according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, columnist of London daily The Telegraph.

    “I don’t govern a country on its knees,” said Matteo Salvini after sweeping the European elections even more emphatically than the Brexit party and his party commands 40 percent of the country together with eurosceptic confederates from the Brothers of Italy.

    Nicolas Bay the secretary general of France’s National Rally meanwhile told Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap that the traditional centrist parties have been disappointing the people for too long, and Emmanuel Macron’s policies have shown the real division in France: globalists, federalists vs. sovereignists who support nation states and democracy,

    According to Nicolas Bay, 44 percent of the Yellow Vests voted for his party in the European election while Macron had turned the election into a referendum against himself and the NR clearly won it.

    Bay said that the French President has less and less allies in Europe, he has turned even Angela Merkel against himself. He added that Macron is particularly weak when compared to great powers such as the USA or China.

    Regarding the European Parliament he said RN and its allies – among others the Lega, the Vlaams Belang and the Austrian Freedom Party – are ready to cooperate with parties which share the vision of a Europe of nations built on cooperation and protection.

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