The four deputies have joined the Greens/EFA Group from Italy’s populist 5Star Movement, which had previously been aligned with Farage’s former Brexit Party group in Parliament.
Corrao, speaking on Wednesday alongside the other three Italian members and Greens co-leader Philippe Lamberts, said, “We would have preferred to have been with the Greens rather than the Nigel Farage group, but we found ourselves in the same group in the last legislature.”
“At the time, some of us tried hard to negotiate with them but that was impossible and we never actually worked with his group. In the end, the Farage group went its own way and towards Brexit, an issue I never agreed with. I have to stress that we had a totally different views to the EFDD and Farage.”
The four new Greens/EFA members took part in an online press conference to announce their new party. The move is expected to be rubberstamped in a vote by Greens/EFA MEPs on Wednesday.
They left the anti-establishment 5Star because they held views that were contrary to the official line of the governing party, including reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU fund which 5Star has long been against.
In the previous legislature, Lamberts said 5Star had tried to join the Greens/EFA Group but was rejected. 5Star are now not attached to any group in Parliament.
“We have different positions on some topics but the Greens do not work as a dictatorship and this is an opportunity to put forward an Italian perspective that possibly was not previously present. I would remind you that 5Star always wanted to be part of the Greens group” Eleonora Evi, Greens/EFA
Commenting on his decision to switch groups, Corrao, who is serving his second mandate since 2014, told reporters, “Despite being in different political groups we have cooperated with the Greens and, in 80 to 90 percent of votes we were the same on both sides.”
“I have tried to do certain things at the start of this legislature but, with 5Star, this did not prove possible so it made it difficult for me to continue with them and I decided to leave.”
“I want to try to do things like improve environmental conditions and the only group where it is realistically possible to do this is in the Greens. That is why today I am glad to start working with them. The aim is to do what we could no longer do in 5Star.”
He said that leaving 5Star “does not mean we are against the current Italian government, which has our full support. But we need to pursue things that we could no longer do so in 5Star.”
Further comment came from Evi, who said, “In the Greens, I will try to pursue the battles, such as on fossil fuels and agriculture, that I have always fought for because I want to make a difference.”
“We have different positions on some topics but the Greens do not work as a dictatorship and this is an opportunity to put forward an Italian perspective that possibly was not previously present. I would remind you that 5Star always wanted to be part of the Greens group.”
“In the end, the Farage group went its own way and towards Brexit, an issue I never agreed with. I have to stress that we had a totally different views to the EFDD and Farage” Ignazio Corrao, Greens/EFA
Lamberts, a Belgian MEP, told reporters, “This is a happy day for us and to welcome these new members. I would remind you that 5Star usually voted in line with our group on most things.”
He recalled that 14 members from 5Star had tried to join the Greens in the past but this approach was turned down at the time.
He said, “I did not doubt the sincerity of the original request by the 5Star Movement to join the Greens but there was a governance issue and also about its political ideas.”
“These four joining now have remained faithful to their original project and if others want to do the same they are welcome to do so.”
He added, “These four joining today have clarified their positions. I know it was not easy for them to leave but what unites us is stronger than what divided us in the past.”
Lamberts said, “It has been a long time since Italian Greens were in government in Italy and anything to do with the environment in Italy is always put to one side. But I believe Italian people are waiting for something like this and for more of a focus on the environment and social justice. Italians are waiting or a Green wave to come to Italy and this is what we hope too.”
He added, “All this does not mean that we want to challenge the other 5Star MEPs and we will keep working with them as we have done so in the past. Yes, these four have left but others in 5Star will not be our enemies.”
Lamberts said, “This is also perfect in terms of gender equality as it is two men and two women joining us.”