Alliance will bring extremist parties major funding from Brussels
The British National party is close to finalising a pan-European alliance with other far-right political parties that would allow them to tap Brussels for hundreds of thousands more euros and greatly increase their power in the European parliament.
Anti-fascist groups have expressed grave concerns about the formation of the Alliance of European National Movements, warning that it threatens to undermine the democratic process.
So far, five far-right parties – Hungary's Jobbik, France's National Front, Italy's Three-Colour Flame, Sweden's National Democrats and Belgium's National Front – have signed up to the coalition, agreeing to abide by a declaration of common goals drafted by the BNP's leader, Nick Griffin. The BNP was due to join last month, but was forced to postpone the move following the furore surrounding Griffin's appearance on Question Time. However, the BNP will sign up within weeks, according to insiders.
Austria's Freedom party, as well as groups from Spain and Portugal, are also poised to join the coalition, which has pledged to oppose "supranational bodies like the European Union which seek to limit the rights of individual countries". If the alliance can muster 25 MEPs from at least seven EU member states, it will be able to garner considerably more influence within the European parliament than the various parties can achieve on their own.
Similar-size groupings in the past have been able to access at least an additional €1.5m in grants and payments from the EU to help cover the cost of extra secretarial and administrative services. They may also be able to appoint a chairman of an influential EU parliamentary committee.
So far, the alliance can boast fewer than 10 MEPs. But if it relaxes its opposition to a number of parties in Eastern Europe joining, or enjoys future success in Euro elections, its ranks would swell. Each of the parties will submit a representative to a presidency body that will co-ordinate decisions. The presidency will then elect a chief, leading to speculation over a role for Griffin.