Italy’s Lega party is contemplating a departure from the European Parliament’s rightwing Identity & Democracy group because it wants “better relations” with the European People’s Party (EPP) and more impact on EU lawmaking, Italian media is reporting.
The party led by Matteo Salvini reportedly wants to move closer to the centre-right (EPP) according to reports emanating from a three-hour long meeting where leaders discussed a shift in “positioning in Europe”.
Salvini is said to have the ambition to “play in the Champions League”, meaning he wants to be a deciding player in Italy and Europe. A hurdle on the road is said to be the rightwing German AfD party, which sits with the Identity & Democracy group and with which some MEPs reportedly hesitate to do business.
The Lega would according to a rumoured plan form a new European group in order to be able to work with the European People’s Party – a party that has itself been obliged to work with the Socialists in the Strasbourg-based assembly in order to advance its agenda.
Lorenzo Fontana, a close Salvini ally in the party, is said to have intervened to emphasize the swing to the right among the European electorate. He therefore supported remaining in the Identity and Democracy (ID) group.
Riccardo Molinari, group leader in the Italian Parliament, is reported to have said that the EPP would be a more logical partner, given that the Lega now has governmental responsibility. He is said to have received the support of several other leading politicians
The Finns, a right-wing Finnish party, recently made the move from the ID-group to the European Conservatives and Reformists group, another right-wing group in Parliament, thereby weakening the ID-group .
There has also been the suggestion that Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia could make a shift from ECR to the EPP. Euractiv reports that an EPP source said that the EU centre-right family wants a strong member in a big country like Italy.
In a reaction to a question from the Italian news agency Ansa, the Lega replied that its priority “is to change the EU, not our EU-fraction [or group].” The Lega wanted to defend the interests of the Italians against “the green European ideology that attacks cars, houses and citizens’ savings, that wants nutri-scores and synthetic meat, and that abandons Italy in the face of the pressure of [migrant] arrivals”.
The party stated, further: “We are working to build an alternative to the Left that has been mismanaging Brussels for years, and make the Lega more of a protagonist in Europe with its battle to protect businesses, workers, and families.”
In April, Marine Le Pen, head of the Rassamblement Nationale, another major party in the ID-group, professed her support for Salvini and his party.