Home » European far-right summit in Florence frames battle for the EU’s right

European far-right summit in Florence frames battle for the EU’s right

Parties in and around the Identity and Democracy group convened to discuss EU matters ahead of the 2024 elections. Summit host and Deputy PM Salvini is working to create a right-wing alternative to the current majority, but he’s lost his edge at home – and his government allies shun his European companions

Turn right for Florence. A dozen of EU far-right parties met in Florence on Sunday in a bid to reshape the European Parliament’s majority ahead of the EU elections in 2024. The summit was hosted by Italian Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini, whose party is the biggest force within the Identity and Democracy group – and who believes that a centre-right alliance in the EP, modelled after Italy’s own government, could define the next Commission.

  • “There are those who would [keep flirting] with the left, which has led Europe to today’s problems, and those who think of a future of well-being based on work, security and freedom, led by the centre-right also united in Brussels. #FreeEurope,” he posted to X on Monday.
  • It’s a recurring theme for Mr Salvini, who has been criticising his governing partners’ refusal to consider allying with other ID forces in Europe.

#FreeEurope. Speaking at the aptly-titled summit, the Italian Deputy PM said that right-wing parties should work together to “liberate Brussels” from the bureaucrats “who occupy it illegally.” Discussions centred on the current challenges faced by the EU, such as migration, the green transition, and the war in Ukraine, and some of the EU’s leading right-wing faces showed up.

  • Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom recently won elections in the Netherlands, showed up remotely and described Salvini as an “inspiring” man and his “number one Italian friend.”
  • Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Rally, also joined the summit digitally (her second-in-command Jordan Bardella) and backed the Italian policymaker’s call against the bureaucrats in Brussels – while voicing her concerns about the current Commission’s approach to migration policy.
  • Other far-right participants, including Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Tino Chrupalla, spoke against the EU sanctions in Russia, arguing that they are putting a strain on the EU’s finances.
  • Other participants included Kostadin Kostadinov (Revival party, Bulgaria); Roman Fritz (Confederation of the Polish Crown, Poland) Gerolf Annemans (Flemish National Party, Belgium) and George Simion Alliance for the Union of Romanians, Romania).

Hedging bets. Despite Mr Salvini’s calls to unite the right, ID’s positions contrast with the more Europhile attitude of his key allies – Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (head of the European Conservatives and Reformists) and Foreign Minister and former EP President Antonio Tajani (Vice Chairman of the European People’s Party) – who might turn towards the centre to make their mark on the next Commission.

  • The League has lost support since it co-founded ID in 2019, from a 37% peak that year to 9% in 2023, as shown by compiled data from Politico – numbers that will likely decrease the party’s relevance after the 2024 elections.
  • Current polls foresee a boost for ECR and a decline for the EPP (which could nonetheless remain the largest political force in the EU Parliament), but chances of centre-right parties becoming powerful enough to form a majority autonomously remain limited.
  • Meanwhile, some right-wing parties have been flocking to ECR – including True Finns MEPs and colleagues of the very same Mr Simion who attended the Free Europe event on Sunday.

Putting some distance. ECR and EPP members have signalled their distaste for some ID members on multiple occasions. Mr Tajani has already ruled out working with Geert Wilders, among others, while the EPP’s leader, Manfred Weber, said he would not accept working with Marine Le Pen or AfD. And while PM Meloni and her allies have so far refrained from vocal posturing on ID, the ECR’s head MEP Carlo Fidanza has spoken of “non-negotiable internal positions and geopolitical choices” with regards to AfD.

  • “With voters around the EU heading to the ballots in June and [PM] Meloni’s Brothers of Italy looking stronger than ever, it’s no secret that the [EPP] has been courting the Italian leader — perhaps with an eye on a post-election tie-up that could redraw the European political landscape,” as Politico noted.

Image: @matteosalvinimi on X

Subscribe to our newsletter