Malik Azmani of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) can stay with Renew EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK


EU Liberals drop threat to exclude Dutch party over cooperation with Geert Wilders

Threats to kick the Liberal Dutch People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) out of the European Parliament's Renew group over its co-operation with the hard-right, Geert Wilders-led Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, have come to nought.


Threats to kick the Liberal Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) out of the European Parliament’s Renew group over its co-operation with the hard-right, Geert Wilders-led Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, have come to nought.

On the evening of June 20, Euronews reported Renew had postponed a vote on the exclusion of the VVD party, without setting a new date.

“Instead, the group is likely to send an observer mission to the Netherlands to check whether the party is crossing any red lines in terms of values and liberal principles – though the official decision on the next steps will be taken at an Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) council party in Vilnius (Lithuania) this weekend,” the media outlet reported.

That means the VVD, consisting of four MEPs, will likely remain in the group.

In apparent response, the elected MEPs of Volt, a pan-European, Euro Federalist party that was strongly considering joining Renew, has decided to align with the European Greens instead.

The Volt MEPs said “insufficient measures” had been taken against the VVD in light of its co-operation with Wilders’ party.

Volt was among the winners in the Dutch national elections, growing from zero to two seats in the Netherlands, while it also went from one to three seats in Germany.

In the last legislature, Volt only had the Germany representative who had joined the Greens group. But with five MEPs now, other options are on the table.

By opting for the VVD and its four seats, Renew misses out on those potential members from Volt.

“One of our reasons for existence is the fight against national populism,” said Dutch Volt leader Reinier van Lanschot.

“It is therefore not desirable for us to join a faction that includes the Czech ANO and does not take sufficient measures against parties like the VVD that collaborate with national populists such as the PVV.”

Fellow Dutch Volt member Anna Strolenberg said: “Based on our values, the Greens are a better fit for Volt.”

Renew did succeed in gaining a seat from the European People’s Party (EPP) in Belgium on June 20. It convinced the centrist Les Engagés party and its MEP Yvan Beroughstraete to come onboard.

That put the Renew group at 81 seats in Europe, still behind the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which has 83 at the moment.

When VVD decided to join a coalition with PVV in the Netherlands, the leadership of the Liberal Renew in the European Parliament reacted furiously.

Group president Valérie Hayer said it was “unacceptable” to work with what she called the “far-right”.

In a message on social media, she stated her “total disapproval” and “strong concern” about developments in the Netherlands.

Hayer went on to say she would convene the party members of her group the day after the EP elections that ended on June 9.

Soon after, Morten Løkkegaard, Vice President of Renew and member of the Danish Liberal Venstre party, firmly rebuffed her.

“If Renew chairman Hayer and [French president Emmanuel] Macron’s other proselytisers can’t stand the heat in the kitchen — well, they can just leave,” Løkkegaard said.

Now ECR has overtaken Renew as the third-biggest group in parliament, group membership is becoming increasingly valuable.

Hayer and her party scored poorly in the EP elections in France, taking a beating from the hard-right National Rally party (RN).