The Liberal Renew Europe group is one of the European Parliament’s most divided, a recent study of the voting record shows.
The division is especially striking on the environment, with the pro-business German delegation opposing the pro-Green French.
The arrival of 25 French Renew MEPs in 2019 helped set off tensions, due to their domineering style of politics, says German MEP Ulrike Müller, a Renew member.
Those politicians “think differently, they don’t think so much about subsidiarity, but rather give orders from the top,” she adds.
The French “were possibly not as used to doing [consensus-oriented] parliamentary democracy,” another former MEP adds.
MEPs from the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) are frequent rebels against the Renew party whip.
The FDP considers itself a classical liberal party, pro-business and in favour of smaller government. It believes the Green Deal is an example of overbearing government and harmful to free enterprise.
Those views cause trouble for its allies in both Brussels and Berlin.
In Brussels, FDP is at the centre of a rogue camp within Renew, which also includes Mark Rutte’s VVD and the Danish Venstre party.
Like the FDP, these parties chiefly differ from the Renew party line over the environment.
In Germany, the FDP threatened to collapse its coalition government with the Social Democratic Party and the Greens over a proposal by Green Economy Minister Robert Habeck to force all German homeowners to install costly heat pumps.
Renew’s inability to impose party discipline has harmed its ability to play kingmaker between the EPP and S&D, the European Parliament’s two biggest groups.
Instead of playing them off each other and gaining concessions, Renew finds itself having to sit on the sideline.
Renew also faces issues with its Czech members from Andrej Babiš’ ANO party.
Babiš, a former PM, has become increasingly conservative and populist in recent years, prompting the Renew Group to dispatch an investigative mission to Prague in September to decide if the ANO was still sufficiently liberal.
Spokespeople from Renew and ALDE (Renew’s umbrella party) declined to reply to questions from Brussels Signal on the subject.