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Nationalism in the EU has a new name: 'Identity and Democracy'

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By Natalie Huet  with Reuters
Nationalism in the EU has a new name: 'Identity and Democracy'
Copyright  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir   -  

Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini’s MEPs have teamed up with other nationalist parties across the EU to form the biggest far-right group in the European Parliament.

The alliance unveiled its new name on Thursday: "Identity and Democracy" (ID).

It brings together Eurosceptic and nationalist parties from around the bloc and aims to bring power from Brussels back to member states. It includes Le Pen's National Rally, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini's League party and Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD), along with nationalists from Austria, Finland and Denmark, among others.

It will hold 73 of the 751 seats in the newly elected Parliament, in fifth place just behind the Greens. It replaces the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, which held 36 seats in the last EU legislature.

"We have changed the political chessboard of the European Union," Le Pen said, adding that the group would "colour" future debates in the hemicycle like never before.

The parties share common goals of returning power to EU member states, curbing immigration and preventing the spread of Islam in Europe, but have diverging views on social and economic issues, including budgetary policies, which could hamper their ability to work together.

With Britain's Brexit party and other Eurosceptic parties scattered across different political groups in the EU assembly, ID will also lack enough seats to block or hold up legislation.

Salvini's foreign affairs advisor Marco Zanni, who chairs the new ID group, said they were courting other parties like Spain's Vox to join.

"The message to all of those parties who have a radically different view of Europe, if we can work together ... that would benefit all of us," Zanni said.