The “Freedom for Europe” conference is set to take place on January 21 in Koblenz, Germany. The event is being organized by the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) movement, and will bring together Eurosceptics from Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and and the Netherlands.
ENF is a political alliance of Eurosceptics in the European Parliament. It was setup back in 2015 and currently unites 40 MEPs from different EU countries and parties. The largest party of the group is France’s National Front, representing half of ENF’s MEPs.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) January 10, 2017
According to a report by Russia’s Izvestia, leaders of five major Eurosceptic parties have confirmed their attendance, among them are Matteo Salvini of Lega Nord (Italy), Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom (Netherlands), Tom Van Grieken of Vlaams Belang (Belgium), Frauke Petry of Alternative for Germany, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (France).
Le Pen, who is the favorite to win this year’s French presidential election, initiated the establishment of the ENF alliance and is the unifying force behind the upcoming conference. Among the planned highlights of the event is the official admission of the Alternative for Germany party into the ENF. The conference is also set to produce a roadmap for the alliance moving forward.
The admission of Alternative for Germany into the ENF is seen as a major milestone, given the role of Germany in the EU as well as the Alternative party’s recent electoral successes. During the last regional elections, the Alternative managed to capture up to 20% of the vote in some regions, coming ahead of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany.
According to a well known Italian political scientist and former MEP, Giulietto Chiesa, the upcoming meeting of Eurosceptic party leaders is the beginning of the formation of a significant political force in Europe, which will play an important role in the European Parliament.
With crucial elections set to take place in France and Netherlands this year, both of which are expected to be won by the Eurosceptics, 2017 is certainly viewed as a major opportunity for the movement.
The date of the conference, January 21, is also symbolic. The Eurosceptics will gather the day after Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, marking the beginning of a new era in Western and European politics.