Far-right parties meet ahead of EU parliament elections

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FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, November 8, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Far-right parties in Europe convened in Italy on Sunday, pledging to reshape the European Union following the upcoming European Parliament elections. Their agenda includes adopting a more stringent stance on immigration and relaxing climate policies to safeguard jobs and industries.

The meeting in Florence, spurred by the recent Dutch elections favoring Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party, aimed to position the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group as a significant force in the EU Parliament.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, hosting the event, expressed the goal of becoming the third-largest group in the EU Parliament, emphasizing their intent to be influential. Despite currently ranking sixth, polling data place the ID group in fourth position. Salvini criticized the EU’s decision to ban CO2-emitting cars by 2035, receiving support from Alternative for Germany’s Tino Chrupalla, who advocated for ending the “war against cars.”

While there was unity on some issues, such as opposition to mass immigration, divisions arose on matters like public spending, euro zone budget rules, and conflicts involving Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas. Geert Wilders praised Salvini as an inspiration, hoping his success in the Netherlands would trigger a wave of victories for like-minded allies. The meeting highlighted both common ground and differences among far-right parties in Europe.

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