By Alastair Macdonald
The withdrawal of a Latvian member of the European Parliament from a party bloc that included the UK Independence Party and Italy’s 5-Star Movement means the group has been wound up, possibly weakening the influence of its former members.
A spokesman for the parliament said the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD) was dissolved on Thursday because it no longer met a criterion for group status that demands such a bloc have members from at least seven countries.
The departure of Iveta Grigule, the sole MEP from Latvia’s Union of Greens and Farmers, deprives the other 47 EFDD members of funding, entitlements to committee seats and other benefits that come from being a recognised parliamentary group. The EFDD was formed only after elections to the parliament in May.
Half of its 48 members had been from UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the European Union, and 17 were from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, led by comedian Beppe Grillo, which has shaken up Italian politics.