Nationalist EU parties plan to join forces after May elections

Italy's Salvini forming alliance of far-right parties

Italy's Salvini forming alliance of far-right parties

"Putting the nation first. will make it hard to form alliances and there are fundamental tensions in their coalition", Ruzza said, adding that the two main centrist groups, which have traditionally called the shots in the European Parliament, alongside the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), would keep the influence of right-wing populists in the European Parliament in check.

"We are working towards a new European dream", Salvini told journalists in Milan, adding that the League is doing so "with movements which are alternatives to those that have ruled Europe in the past decades".

Meuthen told reporters the EU parliamentary bloc would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations. "We want to bring the people back to governing Europe", he said.

Under parliament rules, a group has to consist of at least 25 MEPs from a minimum of seven European Union countries.

The AfD is Germany's main opposition party and has drawn much controversy.

"We can propose a new Europe because we have never governed (in Brussels)", Salvini said.

But support has grown for nationalist, anti-immigration parties since the 2014 election, so the May vote could significantly change Europe's top legislative body.

Expressing a desire to bring about "radical change, " Salvini claims to be interested in more than a change in European Union leadership and says he wants to build a new Europe.

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Currently, nationalist and Eurosceptic groups are among the smallest in the European Parliament, numbering several dozen members.

Monday's meeting came as the coalition government of Salvini's League and the Five Star Movement of fellow deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio which won elections a year ago appears increasingly jittery.

With the UK's Brexit still expected to go ahead, the plan is that 27 of the UK's 73 seats will be redistributed, and the total number of seats will drop from 751 to 705.

It remains unclear if the individual nationalist parties have a common platform on many issues.

Despite common ground on curbing immigration, their approaches to economic and foreign policy can differ greatly.

The new euroskeptic alliance, launched under the banner "Toward a Europe of common sense", expands on the parliament's four-year-old Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (ENF), which already includes France's far-right National Rally, Austria's Freedom Party and the Netherland's Party for Freedom. According to the European Parliament's own projections, the League is en route to becoming the second-largest party in the parliament after May's vote, behind Germany's ruling centre-right CDU/CSU party.

The dream of Salvini - and of Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump's former strategist - has been to unite these disparate forces and form an "international of nationalists".

The leaders said their invitation was open to all like-minded parties to join the new bloc, which will be formed after the parliamentary election.

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