There is no way for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) to form a big right group with the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) following the Italian elections, Brothers of Italy MEP Nicola Procaccini told EURACTIV Italy in an interview.
Following the 25 September Italian elections and the potential collaboration of these parties, rumours swirled that this could also lead to forming a right group in European Parliament.
“At the moment, there is not this possibility”, Brothers of Italy MEP Nicola Procaccini said.
The next Italian government will likely have as coalition partners the Brothers of Italy, which is affiliated with the ECR, and Matteo Salvini’s League, which belongs to the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID).
“There are many differences that distinguished us before and remain persistent now”, said Procaccini.
The war in Ukraine made some of these evident as the ECR strongly backed sanctions against Russia while many party members of the ID group, including Matteo Salvini’s League, have openly opposed them.
Mixed feelings about Orbán
However, the case of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán causes mixed feelings.
“Orbán’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is clearly one that makes complicated a possible entry of his Fidesz into the ECR”, said the Italian conservative MEP.
On several occasions, the next Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni made clear that Italy will support Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, something Procaccini echoes.
“We firmly believe that sanctions are necessary. Ugly, hateful, damaging to everyone but still necessary.”
However, Brothers of Italy and Fidesz share a common point: the vision of the rule of law.
The ECR, together with the ID, voted against the Commission’s proposal to safeguard the rule of law in Hungary.
“We think the accusation of violation of the rule of law, which was not even substantiated in the document we voted for in the European Parliament, is completely instrumental”, said Procaccini.
Procaccini argued that Article 7 – the so-called “nuclear option” which outlines procedures for suspending certain rights from a member state in case of a breach of EU values countries – has been interpreted in recent years in a “furiously political sense” and it is used to judge the political agenda of member states.
“This is a perversion of the Left. The Italian EU lawmaker said that governments are elected based on certain electoral agendas and then have every right to implement them”, even if they are conservatives.
“Paradoxically, today those who want to defend the founding treaties of the European Union are we conservatives, we of the European centre-right”, he added.
What is pro-Europe?
Referring to a statement made by the European People’s Party (EPP) chief Manfred Weber calling on Italians before the elections to vote for the centre-right to “guarantee” that Meloni’s coalition would be pro-European, Procaccini stressed: “It is important to understand what ‘pro-Europe’ means for each”.
“We certainly are not anti-European, but neither do we accept that pro-Europe understanding of the Italian Left, according to which national interest should systematically succumb to the common European interest,” he said.
He explained that the Brothers of Italy believe national interest should be “enhanced” through the EU, which should handle major issues that single member states cannot handle successfully on their own.
He said one of these is energy, where EU standard solutions should be found and not acting like Germany, which opposes an EU-wide gas price cap and instead acts autonomously.
“Germany is conducting an action that is totally sovereigntist, not giving a damn about the identity trait par excellence of the European Union”, Procaccini concluded.