The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the European Parliament has been revived after controversial Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz joined its ranks. The group was thrown into disarray last week after a Latvian MEP left but is “back with a bang” after welcoming Iwaszkiewicz to its ranks.
The EFDD has 48 members – half of them UKIP politicians – in the 751-seat parliament.
European Parliament rules say party blocs have to have at least 25 MEPs from seven different countries. UKIP stood to lose an estimated €2m in funding if EFDD had not reformed.
The group´s revival paves the way for significant EU funding and committee posts for the group.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage proclaimed, “To paraphrase Mark Twain ‘Rumours of our death have been greatly exaggerated.’ The Eurosceptics are now back with a bang, indeed we have never been away
“Last week we were done over by the Feds, [European Federalists] but today the EFDD Group is alive obviously having friends in the very highest places.In wireless terms…..the radio signal was weak for a few days but normal transmission has now been resumed.”
Iwaszkiewicz said he joined EFDD “because of two important values – opposition to EU bureaucracy and support for free markets”.
He said, “As a delegation member of the Congress of New Right I wanted to help the vital and unique Eurosceptic group in the European Parliament. I joined EFDD because of two important values – opposition to EU bureaucracy and support for free markets so firmly supported by the UKIP delegation.”
Iwaszkiewicz recently caused controversy in Poland after telling a newspaper that men hitting their wives can “help them come back down to earth”. He later claimed he was being sarcastic.
He is a member of the Polish Congress of the New Right (KNP), led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who has a reputation for anti-EU rhetoric and controversial views about women.
This prompted the UK based think tank Open Europe to say that Farage has “questions to ask” about its new recruit.
A spokesman sazid, “Iwaszkiewicz himself is hardly baggage free; during an interview about with Gazeta Wrocławska a couple of months ago, when asked about domestic violence, he said that:
“I’m convinced that many a wife would benefit from such a response in order to re-connect with reality.”
The spokesman added, “Regardless, this incident just underscores the absurdity of these taxpayer subsides for European Parliament groups.”
By Martin Banks