The centrist and Eurofederalist Renew Europe Group has called for any cooperation with “anti-European” parties to be rejected.
The declaration is an opening salvo ahead the 2024 European Parliament elections, as the Parliament’s third-biggest group assembled in Vienna to decide its party line.
It remains to be seen if such a “cordon sanitaire” is possible in an increasingly polarised European Union.
“We call on pro-European parties in the European Parliament to reject populism and cooperation with the extreme Right or Left,” Renew President Stéphane Séjourné said at the meeting.
The gathering has resulted in Renew’s “Vienna Declaration”, a two-page manifesto outlining the group’s priorities for the upcoming elections and one of the first declarations to be made on the 2024 campaign trail.
Among the host of policies, the declaration leads with the outlining of what it called the spectre of polarisation.
“With a few months to go until European elections, the political divide in Europe is growing stronger,” the opening line stated.
On one hand, it criticised Conservative parties for “moving further away from the centre, tempted by illiberalism”. On the other, it targeted the Left, which it claimed is “drawn to economic populism”.
Against this, Renew poses its own “promise” of an EU “that creates opportunities for young people, entrepreneurs, scientists and the ‘squeezed middle’, who feel increasingly disempowered”.
“Europe’s political centre must hold,” the manifesto exhorts readers.
The document was followed up by a near word-for-word replica editorial from Renew Europe Group in “Brussels bubble” news outlet Politico.
Such an effort to maintain the centre ground might be beyond reach; both in Brussels and across the EU, many say political polarisation is taking hold.
In Brussels, the split has mainly appeared over broad Right and Left lines. Most recently, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) has been sparring with its traditional coalition partners, the centre-left S&D Group.
Recently the S&D Group sent a warning letter to European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen, an EPP member. In it they criticised the EPP’s apparent cooperation with the populist Right, especially on Green Deal issues.
“We deplore the rightwards and populist drift of the EPP Group towards an anti-Green Deal position and its increasing shift away from our collective pro-European and progressive endeavours,” the letter stated.
It went on to urge von der Leyen to continue supporting its progressive policies, warning that its support was “conditional”.
In the letter, the S&D Group – the EPP’s traditional coalition partners – warned von der Leyen that its support is “conditional” on her supporting a slew of progressive initiatives.@EPPGroup | @plopezdepablo | @TheProgressives https://t.co/ZV9Ip2Tn0Z
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 7, 2023
Writing to Brussels Signal, EPP officials were quick to slam the socialists for their methods, accusing them of collaborating with “Communist, pro-Russian and other radical Left parties”.