Two months before the European elections it appears necessary to analyze an essential element of European representative democracy, namely the political groups of the Parliament. We have interviewed some of their leading figures in order to understand who they are, what values they defend and also what they think about the main questions of European political debate. This is what they told us.
The ENF (Europe of Freedom and Nations) was created on June 2015. This was formed firstly by the union at the European level of the parties of Le Pen and Salvini. The group is mainly composed by parties of the extreme right and eurosceptics. The Presidents today are Nicolas Bay and Marcel de Graaff, while Matteo Salvini is the vice-president.
We had the opportunity to interview the president of the ENF. Nicolas Bay is a French politician, Secretary General of the National Rally and co-President of the ENF.
Which political strategy is ENF going to use to succeed in these elections?
Undoubtedly, our political group is the most coherent regarding the main topics of the European Union. However, since we know that our countries have different interests and considering that we respect all existing differences among the national parties in our group, we do not have a common “political strategy” for these elections; we do not have common instructions about how to vote in the European Parliament as well. That said, we have been cooperating on a daily basis for five years, even before the official creation of the ENF group. We will certainly continue to organise common meetings and conferences to better promote our project about a different idea of EU. For instance, we are organising a meeting in Rome mid-March.
Do you think that increasing turnout should be a priority for European political forces? In which way is ENF going to mobilise new voters into political debate?
Yes, we hope we will be able to mobilise the voters in order for abstention to decrease. Contrary to a widely held idea, we think that the abstainers would prefer to vote for us than the old parties which have been in charge for the last decades disappointing or betraying them. This is especially true in France where our electoral system, the least democratic in Europe, has discouraged a growing number of our citizens. However, what is happening now in Italy shows that there is no fatality and that the people of Europe can take their destiny back in their hands.
What does ENF think of the problem of migrants that the Union is facing? What does ENF think is the best way to handle the problem?
Among the European countries, France was probably the first to be affected a by the problems linked to uncontrolled immigration. Since 2015, the whole continent has faced a real flood of migration. This is a real situation. Because of its size, the massive immigration of last years challenges our lifestyles even beyond the socio-economic and security problems it caused. «Qui veut faire l’ange fait la bête» (Who wants to act like an angel acts like a beast), wrote the philosopher Pascal in 17th Century. Do-gooders – our governments while facing the challenges of migration – led to the terroristic attacks that left a bloody Europe in the last years. The free movement’s dogma of goods and people led to the free movement of weapons and terrorists.
Do-gooders are the opposite of people who care about others. The former, saying that “urbi et orbi” they want to welcome the whole misery of the world, have encouraged populations to leave their countries and to take unreasonable risks to come to Europe. In theory, while removing the internal borders, the Schengen agreements should have also compensated by guaranteeing the strenghthening of the external ones. We saw what happened.
Anyway, we have the means – financial, logistical and human resources – to end the problem of massive and uncontrolled immigration: political willingness is what is missing.
Matteo Salvini has showed that a voluntaristic politics can produce exceptional effects. It is necessary to prove a great determination facing the illegal immigration, and a stronger collaboration with the countries from where people come.
Which are ENF positions on EMU functioning? Which reforms is ENF going to propose in sectors as Eurozone governance and budgetary rules?
All the different parties in our group agree on the same aspect: the euro, the common currency, has not kept its promises. Instead of being a mean to be used by our economies, it has become a totem and the whole policy of growth has been sacrificed for it. Like all totems, the possibility to discuss its existence has become a taboo. However, it is necessary to talk about it.
A governance problem exists: ECB’s only objectif is to limit inflation, which represents a real obsession for Germany.
In fact, the policy of quantitative easing has caused the effect of reducing the euro’s value, but not enough for France and southern countries and far too much for Germany, whose trade surplus counts billions of euros. Nowadays, the euro zone is the economic area which shows the lowest growth in the world. We can challenge the measures established to maintain this growth (for example, the european mechanism for stability) instead of relaunching it, since we know that they lead to the confiscation of the citizens’ savings, just like it happened in Cyprus…
Which is for the ENF the future of the Union? Do you think that the integration should be accelerated throughout a new Treaty or that it should be slowed down by resorting to intergovernamental agreements? Do you believe that the future of the Union is within a Multispeed-Europe or within an Eu+27?
It is necessary to save Europe from the drifts of the European Union itself. With its functioning – or should I say its malfunctioning – but also its deepest guidelines, the EU has led to the general weakness of our countries. For us, the European Union has became an anti-Europe entity. Not only the European Union does not protect us from the competition extra-EU, but it has also created a competition among the EU countries, i.e. the directive about the workers’ detachment.
We need to discuss again the Treaties. We do not wish this Commission to be guided by bureaucrates nobody voted and politicians close to retirement, even though its prerogatives are growingly stealing the sovereignty of Member States. The Commission should become kind of a Secretariat of the Council.
In general, we have to pursue the direction of the intergovernmental cooperations, keeping in mind the Member States’ interests. “A Multispeed-Europe?” Possibly. However, it is necessary to end the need to reach a systematic standardization and to show the existing flexibility into the organization of cooperation. We need to respect the interests each country holds and to defend the common ones in front of extra-UE actors. We have been told a lot about European protectionism but a real political willingness in that way does not exist. Instead, the opposite happens.
Without considering free-trade agreements with the whole world, we can talk about the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), which revoked the article 44-2 of the Treaty of Rome – stating “the development of a natural preference among the Member States”. This preference mainly regarded the agricultural goods. Instead of revoking it, the Treaty should have reinforced this measure and extended it to the industrial products.
Speaking about France, how is the Rassemblement national managing the European elections mobilization? How is it confronting with the other parties in the European arena which share similar ideas?
In France, the social dynamics are on our side, despite the communication skills of Emmanuel Macron. Our group at the European Parliament is solid and even more attractive: thus, without talking about the discussions we have with political parties belonging to other groups, we have recently concluded a number of alliances with entities from Central and East Europe founded after 2014, which have made important progress in the context of the national Parliaments.
The european elections in May should confirm the development of last years and let the national forces play a crucial role in the necessary reform of the European project.
Thanks to G. Pradoura, Assistant of Nicolas Bay