Thursday November 15, 2007
The Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty grouping of MEPs from Italy, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Britain in the European parliament fell apart in acrimony because of the disputes between Italy and Romania over immigration and crime.
This week Alessandra Mussolini, the Italian neo-fascist, MEP and granddaughter of the Italian dictator, declared that all Romanians were criminals, triggering outrage among MEPs from Romania's extreme Greater Romania party. Five quit the ITS caucus in protest, meaning that the transnational club failed to muster the 20 MEPs needed to qualify as a caucus in the European parliament and to benefit from funding and perks.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in January, with their batch of far-right MEPs making it possible to form the caucus.
Parliament burst into applause on the implosion of the extremist grouping, which was formed just 10 months ago.
"Members of this rightwing group have been fighting among themselves like ferrets in a sack. They can't even agree on the day of the week," said Gary Titley, a Labour MEP.
Ashley Mote, previously of the UK Independence party and currently serving a prison sentence for benefit fraud, was the sole British member of the caucus.
The caucus linked France's National Front with Italy's neo-fascists, a former disciple of Jörg Haider, the Austrian nationalist, and xenophobes from Romania and Bulgaria. But the grouping struggled to hold together, not least because of mutually antagonistic nationalisms.
Martin Schulz, the German leader of the socialists in the parliament, said: "The good news is that the 'international' of the ultra-nationalists no longer exists and cannot use the money of the European taxpayer to support its xenophobia and neo-fascism."