marita ulvskog

"I think it is terribly embarrassing and I find it disturbing that we are helping to finance this type of activity," says MEP Marita Ulvskog of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, commenting on revelations by Expo that EU funds are once again being disbursed to an association of fascists and nazis. Photo: Lars Hagberg

Swedish MEP to summon parliamentary group to stop EU-subsidy to fascists and neo-nazis

Publicerad 2016-04-15

Marita Ulvskog, MEP for the Swedish Social Democrats, was one of those who, in 2014, pushed the EU to prevent its funds going to fascist organizations. Following Expo's revelation that vast funding once again have been disbursed to an association of fascists and nazis, Ulvskog is calling for an emergency meeting of her European parliamentary group.

"I think it is terribly embarrassing and I find it disturbing that we are helping to finance this type of activity. I think a large majority in the European Parliament would be shocked if they knew about this," says Ulvskog, who heads the Swedish Social Democratic deputies in the European Parliament.

On Wednesday, Expo revealed that the European Union has granted some €400,000 in funding for the Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF), a European-level political party with an executive board composed of infamous European nazis and fascists.

Among others, the board includes Stefan Jacobsson, the former leader of the nazi party Svenskarnas parti (Party of the Swedes), as the APF's secretary general. The APF chairman is the Italian terror convict and fascist ideologue Roberto Fiore.

Unaware prior to Expo's revelation

The funds have been disbursed even though the rules governing EU funding to European-level parties were changed in 2014, precisely in order to prevent financial support going to organizations like the APF. One of those who pushed for the rules change was Marita Ulvskog.

"We viewed it as an important victory when Göran Färm (also of the Social Democrats) and I spoke to various people in our parliamentary group, the group leadership and other high officials of the Parliament in order to make sure that large sums of money weren't drifting off out of EU funds to extreme, un-democratic groups. We were successful back then and I haven't heard anything about this until you alerted us to the fact that there is money that is drifting off again," Ulvskog says.

Was there any real change when the regulations were altered in 2014, given that similar European-level political parties are clearly being financed by the EU even today?

"[The changes in 2014] meant that money did not drift off for a period of one or two years. But it is just topsy-turvy that one should achieve a change in the EU through hard work and the involvement of lots of people in the EU system, only to have the tape rewound again."

Emergency meeting with the EP group

Marita Ulvskog will now call for an emergency meeting with her parliamentary group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), in order to determine how this apparent failure of regulation is possible. The S&D political group of 190 MEPs is the second biggest in the European Parliament.

"I do not know how it could it have happened, and I will raise the issue with persons in our group leadership and others who might assist in shaping a clear opinion and signal on this issue."

"This is terrible, and of course I will bring that into the discussion when I speak to those who are responsible for budgetary issues in my own parliamentary group, but also the group leadership. It is unacceptable and I will certainly have to raise it in other contexts too. I will do what I can to change this," Ulvskog continues.

The European Parliament has sent an answer in writing to Expo concerning the grounds on which they have granted EU funds to the APF. Delphine Colard of the European Parliament's Press Service writes that the European political parties need to meet various criteria set out in the European Parliament's rules on funding, in order to receive grants. Among other things, parties should in their programme and activities observe the principles of liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Examining official party documents only

The decision to grant funding to a European party is preceded by an assessment made by an evaluation committee, and in that assessment, only the programme and activities of the European-level party as such are examined. No assessment is made of the constituent parties on the national level, or of the politicians that are in the European-level party.

Expo has yet to receive an answer from the European Parliament as to how the APF is different from the far right group Alliance of European National Movements (AENM), whose funding by the EU prompted a tightening of rules in 2014. The British right-wing extremist Nick Griffin, now on the executive board of the APF, was previously a member of AENM.

Expo has also asked whether the EU looks at propaganda that is spread through the official channels of European-level parties, such as their websites. The APF website, for example, disseminates antisemitic conspiracy theories and racist notions of an alleged "Jewish agenda" aimed at lowering the birthrate of "white children" and forcing a "civil war in Europe" through encouraging "mass immigration".

READ MORE -> European fascist and neo-nazi association gets vast EU-subsidy

Factbox | APF board members, by country:

The Holocaust denier Herve van Laethem, of the identitarian organization Mouvement Nation, is a board member of the APF. Since the 1980s, Laethem has led a number of radical groups and has been prosecuted numerous times because of his flagrant racism.

Vlaanderen Identitair, a Flemish identitarian movement, became a member of the APF in March 2016. They work closely with Mouvement Nation.

Danskernes Parti (Party of the Danes), sister party of the now-defunct Svenskarnas parti (Party of the Swedes), is represented in the APF by its leader Daniel Carlsen. The party was set up in 2011 and has no seats in the Danish parliament. The party is a nexus for the scattered white-power movement in Denmark, and has close ties to the German party NPD.

The lawyer and politician Olivier Wyssa was previously a member of the Front National. It is unclear if he is currently a member of any organization besides the APF. He is believed to have left the Front National because of ties to the proscribed organization L'Œuvre française. A member of the APF's executive board, Wyssa is also an independent councillor of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional assembly in France.

The nazi party Golden Dawn has been successful on both the national and the European levels, with three MEPs in the European Parliament. Artemis Mattheopoulos, deputy chairman of the APF's executive board, is also a member of parliament in Greece.

Roberto Fiore, the leader of Forza Nuova, has for the past few years been masterminding attempts to forge alliances between Europe's far right parties. He is the chairman of the APF. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2008. Forza Nuova currently has no seats in the parliament of Italy.

Democracia Nacional is represented in the APF by Gonzalo Martin Garcia. He is in charge of the party's international ties and has previously been in contact with the nazi Party of the Swedes. Democracia Nacional has no members of parliament. Garcia stood as a candidate in the latest European elections.

United Kingdom
The ex-leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, is on the APF's executive board. As of 30 November, 2015, he is co-deputy chairman of the APF together with Artemis Mattheopoulos. Griffin chaired the statutory meeting of February 2015. He was previously an MEP for the British National Party. Today he runs the one-man project "British Unity".

Stefan Jacobsson, formerly the leader of the now-defuct nazi Party of the Swedes, is the secretary general of the APF as of November 2015.

Czech Republic
Tomáš Vandas is the leader of the Czech far right party Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti (Workers' Party of Social Justice). The party has no seats in either the Czech or the European parliament. It has gained notoriety for its aggressive marches through Roma encampments and for protesting a Pride parade.

Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD, secured one mandate in the European parliamentary elections of 2014. The party is represented on the APF's executive board by Jens Pühse. Within the NPD, Pühse was tasked with maintaining the party's international ties. The party also gained a few mandates in Germany's recent local elections.

Correction: This article previously stated that the EU cut off funding to the AENM party after the tightening of rules for subsidies in 2014; something which was claimed by several politicians. However, new information has emerged indicating otherwise. Expo is currently investigating.

Translation: Morgan Finnsiö
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