In the run up to the European Parliamentary Election in May, Europa United will be presenting an information article on each of the main groups and parties that make up the European Parliament. This is designed to help you find out as much information on who is seeking your vote in May 2019. Here we take a look at the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy or EFDD.
The seventh largest Group in the current Parliament, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) is the successor to the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), with various significant changes to its membership and executive since the 2014 European Parliamentary election.
… an open, transparent, democratic and accountable co-operation among sovereign European states and rejection of a centralised European super-state.
Its President, Nigel Farage, of the UK’s UK Independence Party (UKIP), is supported by a Secretariat. The Group’s 42 MEPs are drawn from 10 Parties in seven of the EU’s 28 member states. 14 MEPs are from Italy’s Five Star Movement and 19 from the UKIP.
The Group is open to Members that subscribe to a Europe of Freedom and Democracy and acknowledge the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and parliamentary democracy.
The Group’s political positioning is heavily dependent on its dominant UKIP contingent, which is due to leave in March 2019, as the UK leaves the EU. The Five Star Movement has, on a number of recent occasions, sought to leave the Group, and may do so again. The rump EFD would comprise eight Parties with nine MEPs from five countries, possibly with views and priorities that differ from those of the Group in its current configuration.
Views and Priorities
The EFDD is committed to the principles of democracy, freedom and co-operation among nation states and, as it believes there is no such thing as a single European people, the legitimate level for democracy lies with nation states, their regions and parliaments, each with the right to protect its borders and strengthen its own historical, traditional, religious and cultural values. The Group respects the freedom of its delegations and Members to vote as they see fit.
The EFDD advocates direct democracy at national, regional and local levels, abolition of the Euro and associated regulation, return of all legal and judiciary structures to member states and harmonisation of customs procedures throughout the EU. The UKIP was a leading campaigner for Brexit.
The Group believes that the EU lacks democratic credentials, mainly because the European Commission, Europe’s civil service, which proposes legislation for debate by the European Parliament, is itself not accountable to the electorate. The Group thus sees the European Parliament as a mere talking shop, and advocates direct democracy, whereby major decisions are legitimised by referenda at national, regional and local levels.
It believes that the glory and genius of Europe is the diversity of its peoples, cultures and languages.
• Nigel Farage UK
• Auréli Laloux France
It views the Eurozone as an artificial construct of political ideology of EU centralisation and, as it is not an optimal currency zone, it cannot accommodate greatly divergent economies and so is bound to be fragile and unstable. The EFD therefore advocates that it be abandoned.
The EFD believes that the EU Parliament has usurped control of central and local governments, especially in the UK, often to what it sees as disastrous effect; and has done so stealthily, in the guise of combatting cross-border terrorism and crime. It opposes creation of EU-level legal institutions and legal instruments and an EU system of criminal law, which undermines and supersedes centuries-old, tried and tested country-level legal systems.
The Group asserts that the European Customs Union is not what it seems, as customs checks in some parts of Europe are more efficient, checks at some points of entry are more rigorous than others, and that this difference in quality distorts commercial routes, so that goods coming from non-European countries naturally avoid passing through more diligent customs, instead diverting to those that tend to “turn a blind eye” to regulations.
Difference between customs policy and inconsistent procedures thus often result in losses for consumers, workers, activities and the treasury, for example through foregone duties, while “turning a blind eye” are conduits of choice for counterfeit goods, resulting in significant productivity and revenue losses.
The Group opposed the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, (TTIP) as a corporate attack on the UK’s NHS.
As a Group, EFDD is simply Euro-sceptic. Its Party political labels are independent and right-wing, while ideologies range more widely.
This is shown in the graph, which compares the political positions of the Group’s member parties and the ideologies of each. The left-hand bar shows Party-level political positions, while the right-hand bar looks deeper, to the sets of ideologies championed by Parties within the Group. Both are weighted by the number of MEPs representing them.
In the left-hand bar, we see that the dominant Party-level positions are Right and Big Tent, corresponding to the UKIP’s 19 MEPs and the Five Star Movement’s 14 respectively. Of the others, four Parties with five MEPs between them are Right – far-right, one of Far-right, with the political position of one is not given.
Now look at the right-hand bar, which captures the ideologies of those Parties. The complexion of this bar is more varied and polarised, largely due to divergences between the two dominant Parties. Whereas UKIP champion for economic liberalism, an ideology of the Centre, Right – far right ideologies, including British nationalism, Right-wing populism, and Far-right Hard Euro-scepticism; the Five Star Movement is for Centre-left direct democracy and e-democracy, as well as Right – far-right Euro-scepticism and populism, as well as environmentalism.
Four of the eight smaller Parties, between them, advocate Right-wing ideologies of Gaulism, laissez-faire and soft Euro-scepticism; six are for Right – far-right ideologies, such as national conservatism, Euro-scepticism, right-wing populism and nationalism, while four are for Far-right anti-feminism, anti-Islam and hard Euro-scepticism.
The registered EFDD office address:
Rue Wiertz 60 / Wiertzstraat 60
1050 Bruxelles / Brussel
Postal address: building ASP – 1047 – Bruxelles / Brussel
Tel: +32 2 28 42111*
This information article was compiled by Europa United contributor Frances Cowell and published with the support of the European Parliament in Ireland and in conjunction with the #thistimeimvoting campaign.
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