Opinion: Kremlin friends an isolated group at European Parliament

MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE)
MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE) Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The bubble inflated by right wingers and eurosceptic forces prior to the May European elections was popped on election day, according to MEP Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE).

Paet, a former foreign minister, adds that the "Kremlin friends club" in the new European parliament's composition will remain modest, in an opinion piece originally published by ERR's online Estonian news.

It is important to recall that while right-wing extremists and those opposed to the EU said that they were going to make great progress at the elections, and that a powerful anti-European bloc would emerge in the aftermath, this has proven to be empty bluffing, according to Paet.

Parties aligned along that direction won around 125 seats at the 751-seat European Parliament, hardly a majority, Paet argues, and likely to lose the Brexit Party contingent when the U.K. exits the union, though this may prove not to happen at all over the current five-year parliamentary term.

The emergence of a united and formidable anti-Europe faction in the European parliament has also failed to materialize, Paet said.

In fact, due to internal tensions and disagreements, particularly on the issue of Russia, these are likely to fragement into three smaller parts, Paet opined.

As yet the Polish Law and Justice Party, and the British Brexit Party, have publicly and unequivocally declared they could not join up with the Russian-friendly Lega Nord, led by Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen's National Rally, from France, with the Sweden Democrats taking a similar line.

Lega Nord, Germany's Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the Danish People's Party and Estonia's own Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) had stated they would cooperate, prior to the elections. EKRE seems a somewhat strange bedfellow in the alignment, given its stance on Russia, Paet said.

Moreover, Paet thought it unlikely that either the Danish party nor the Finns, who won 39 seats at the 200-seat Eduskuntatalo in the Finnish domestic elections, will in practice form a single group with Salvini and Le Pen's parties.

Nevertheless, despite these seemingly unsurmountable differences, and the likelihood of fragementation, Paet said that there are not vast differences between the eurosceptic or critical parties and the right-wingers, who still count for about a sixth of the whole pearliment, but, purely on the isse of Rssia, the "Kremlin friends club" will remain small – a logical decision since most Europeans of any hue view the security and well-being of their home nations as paramount, Paet said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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