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Political Groups in European Parliament Exchange Fire

The two largest groups in the European Parliament, the center-right EPP and the Socialist PES have attacked each other over alliances made with other parties as the June elections approach.

The EPP leader Hans-Gert Pöttering came under fire for reportedly alleging that the Malta Labour Party, which formerly campaigned against EU membership, could have problems with its European allies. This comment was described as "stunning in its hypocrisy" by the Party of the European Socialists, which criticized the recent deal made between the EPP and its eurosceptic wing, the British Conservatives, which allows the latter to pursue their anti-European agenda. This deal is currently subject to an examination in the European Parliament, after Socialist leader, Enrique Barón Crespo asked the European Parliament President Pat Cox to check whether it was in conformity with rules which state that political groups can be formed by members who have "political affinity." This rule ensures that groups are not just formed to be entitled to funding or receive staff, but share common political values and goals. Whether the deal struck by the EPP is legitimate will be known later on this month. If the European Parliament rules against the EPP agreement, it could lead to its disbandment and undermine its claim to public funding. The EPP is currently the largest group in the European Parliament, with 231 members, 37 of which are British Conservatives. The PES has 173 members. (EUobserver.com)

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