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Eurosceptic Conservatives to Join Forces within the European Parliament

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Roar writer Ela Podgórska on Eurosceptic alliances emerging in the European Parliament.

In the early days of April observers from the European Union and abroad were carefully following the outcomes of the meeting between the prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, and the former deputy PM from Italy Matteo Salvini. The meeting was presented to the public as a discussion around the possibility of creating a new right-wing coalition within the European Parliament, consisting of the MEPs from the aforementioned countries. Expectedly, such an idea was received with a wave of criticism and worry from the Europhiles from around the EU, even those from Poland, Hungary and Italy.

The grounds for those concerns are, considering the views of the possible allies, rather legitimate. Poland and Hungary together with their conservative governments are already undermining the EU’s authorities and laws, recently even starting legal cases around the matters connected to European requirements for the rule of law.

Both countries, or more precisely their ruling parties, frequently undermine democratic principles while gaining support through an array of populist promises. Consequently, the rule of law in both countries is currently experiencing a significant backslide, threatening the preservation of the democratic values advocated and in fact required by the European Union. Hence, it is relatively easy to notice that the union of the EU’s most unlawful and in a sense politically disobedient countries could give birth to the coalition potentially threatening the stable preservation of European values and freedoms.

When it comes to the Italian part of the potential coalition, Matteo Salvini, a member of the right-wing Italian party, seems to ideologically match with his potential allies. However,  Salvini’s favourable opinion on Russia and admiration of Putin may act as a source of possible weak points for further discussions around the creation of the alliance. Poland is rather well- known for avoiding any close contacts with Russia, not to mention openly supporting Russian politics. A similar situation can be observed in Hungary, although it is more probable that Orban will be the one to accept Salvini’s view on Russia for the sake of creating the alliance.

Why then is the matter of uniting conservative members of the European Parliament so important for the possible political allies? Some aptly underline that such a union, from the perspective of Poland for example, would act as some kind of revenge against the European Union for the recent clash of interests between Warsaw and Brussels over the decline in the rule of law within Polish courts.

On the other hand, for Salvini, such an alliance would allow the members of his party and its supporters within the European Parliament to gain significant influence over EU legislation. Orban’s benefits from the alliance sit closely with those of Salvini. As Orban underlined in a pledge, his intention is to “launch a new platform, an organization, a process that will give those citizens who believe in a traditional Europe the representation that they deserve.”

Additionally, control over an important part of the legislative process of the European Union would give him significant influence over the EU policies, which he could possibly attempt to amend issues in favour of his own views. This aim could be a possible position on Morawiacki’s list of gains as well, as his party in Poland certainly wouldn’t mind changing some European laws to their own advantage.

The list of potential gains for the signatories of the alliance are worrisome for other  EU countries and MEPs. Having a Eurosceptic, pro-Russian alliance in Parliament would threaten  European values of democracy and lawful governance.

Nevertheless, the disparities between the possible allies may result in a downfall of the idea of the union. And even if the plan succeeds, the scale of the coalition may be far smaller than expected by Orban, Morawiecki or Salvini. Getting support within the Parliament may not be easy and it is more than certain that groups such as the European People’s Party will try their best to protect the EU from the rule of conservative Eurosceptics. The next meeting between the representatives of Hungary, Poland and Italy will take place in May, possibly in Warsaw, where the outcome of the discussion will make it clear what we can expect and how the EU should respond to the actions undertaken by the three visioners.

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