Pro-European Centrist Group in Parliament in the Making | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.06.2004
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Pro-European Centrist Group in Parliament in the Making

Liberal and centrist parties are rallying their forces to create a new EU parliamentary group with a "pro-European vision."

Liberal group leader Graham Watson and head of the French centrist UDF party Francois Bayrou have agreed to proceed with plans to create a new centrist political group in the European Parliament. Plans to create such a group are taking shape after a meeting held Wednesday between the two men, where they agreed to finalize the program of this new group by the end of this month. "We are working to create a new group in the European Parliament which brings together those coming from the liberal family and from the democratic family", Bayrou told journalists after the meeting with Graham Watson. "This new group will have a key role in the Parliament, because we hope that it surpasses the number of 80 MEPs coming from at least 18 or 20 countries." The liberal group in the European Parliament currently has 67 MEPs, making it the third largest group after the center-right EPP and the socialist PES. The new group is hoping to get some other parties on board, such as regionalist parties and other MEPs dissatisfied with the EPP. "Our intention is to demonstrate that at the European Parliament there will be a group which will maintain a clear pro-European vision, contrary to the other principle group which has a blocked vision since it is divided between the pro and anti-Europeans", Bayrou added. The EPP, which emerged in recent elections as the biggest group in the European Parliament, risks finding itself deserted by its core federalists and left with a strong euroskeptic element with the UK Conservatives and the euroskeptic Czech party ODS under its umbrella. (