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Not so fast for Libertas, its campaign in limbo

Libertas.eu 18%

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Shortly after its opponents in the European Parliament said they were resigned to the fact that the Eurosceptic party Libertas – which is trying to unseat some MEPs – would get 200,000 Euro as an approved party, the newcomers were thrown into disarray when one of its key backers said he had never joined the party, a move that could threaten to derail it. Founded by Irish millionaire Declan Ganley, Libertas played a key role in successfully rallying opposition to the European Union’s reforming Lisbon Treaty at a referendum held in Ireland last year. In a statement, it said it had met the necessary conditions to join the European Parliament and run in this spring’s elections after enrolling MEPs from seven different EU member states. But one of its members, Igor Grazin of Estonia, said that he knew nothing about his Libertas membership.

Instead, Grazin said in a statement that he would continue to represent the Estonian National Reform Party in the European Parliament. Any pan-European group wishing to join the parliament, which convenes in either Strasbourg or Brussels, must enroll lawmakers representing at least a quarter of the bloc’s 27 countries. Failure to reach this condition would also deprive Libertas of the 200,000 Euro in EU taxpayers’ money, which it could use to fund its political campaign ahead of the June elections when the European Parliament is up for re-election, and some of its incumbents are targets of Libertas. However, Ganley has already said that it would not necessarily be relying on such funding. “Not before we have the voters mandate to spend taxpayers’ money,” Ganley said. Libertas said in its statement that it had received the endorsement of a total of eight Euro-sceptic MEPs, two of whom are French, although the United Kingdom has some noted EU opponents among its lawmakers. Others include a British lord and a Polish radical known for his anti-homosexual stance. Libertas officials were not immediately available for comment. All that happened before the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe(ALDE) said it would not fight the prospect of Libertas receiving a share of EU taxpayer’s money to fight the European elections following the decision by the European Parliament to allocate the new party the 200,000Euro. “We live in a pan-European democracy,” said Graham Watson of the United Kingdom, the ALDE group leader. “All creeds and colours should be tolerated as long as they comply with the rules laid down on party funding. The market for Eurosceptic voices is becoming increasingly competitive, but the presence of Libertas ma. well raise public interest in the European elections and force pro-Europeans to be bolder and better organised in their presentation and defence of the EU and its latest Treaty reform.”



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