Where are the conservative skeptics
EU skeptics in Brussels
It is true that EU-skeptical parties have been part of the EU's political system since the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. However, they did not experience their political breakthrough until 2014, when their share of seats in parliament jumped to 20 percent; in several EU countries such as Great Britain, France and Denmark they even became the strongest force at the time. However, the EU-skeptical MPs have so far been divided into three parliamentary groups or appear as independent MPs, so that despite their significant growth in the last EP election, they were only able to exert a limited influence on European legislation. Rather, they exert pressure on politics at the national level in noteworthy opposition factions or even through government participation. In this way, parties that reject the EU as a whole or at least parts of European values are changing the political systems of member states and their attitude towards the EU.
In the 2019 EP elections, EU-skeptical parties fell short of their expectations. They were able to become the strongest force in several large EU countries, such as in Great Britain (Brexit Party), Italy (Lega), France (Rassemblement Nationale) and - with the much more moderate PiS party - in Poland. Across the EU, however, they were only able to increase their share of votes and seats in the EP to a limited extent;
The establishment of a common, overarching EU-skeptical parliamentary group has also failed for the time being. Even after the 2014 elections, the representatives of the respective national EU-skeptical parties in the EU Parliament failed to overcome their substantive and personal differences. Before the 2019 election, calls for comprehensive cooperation between the EU skeptics increased. Politically influential forces like the Italian right-wing populist Matteo Salvini cleverly used the newly emerging power-political options as an incentive to bridge the previous differences of opinion. So far, however, a split has continued to emerge: a strengthened, anti-EU parliamentary group (»Identity & Democracy«) with the participation of the Italian Lega, the French National Collection Movement (formerly Front National), the FPÖ and the AfD on the one hand and the continuation of the group of »European Conservatives and Reformers« (ECR), which is moderately critical of the EU, under the leadership of the Polish PiS party on the other side. Nigel Farage's Brexit Party (which will have to leave the EP in November depending on the progress of the Brexit process) and the five-star movement from Italy are still non-attached. Further movements in the EU-skeptical spectrum can therefore not be ruled out.
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