Publicerad 2016-04-22 10:19
European fascist and nazi associations have been given nearly two and a half million euros in EU subsidies since 2014 – despite the tightening of EU regulations that same year in order to prevent such funding. EU lawmakers say they were unaware of the cash flow.
Last week, an exclusive investigation by Expo showed that the European Parliament has granted nearly €600,000 in EU subsidies to the far right European-level political party APF and its associated foundation. Some of the money will be used to finance a nazi gathering in Stockholm in May.
Now Expo can reveal that the flood of money to fascist and nazi associations in the European Union is even bigger than previously believed. Despite a tightening of rules for EU funding in 2014 meant to prevent subsidies being granted to anti-democratic groups, the money has kept flowing.
In total, a sum of 2,3 million euros has been disbursed in the years 2014–2016.
Rules were tightened in 2014
Several Swedish MEPs were active in pushing for the new funding regulations in 2014, including Göran Färm and Marita Ulvskog of the Social Democrats. Gunnar Hökmark of the centre-right Moderates and Carl Schlyter of the Green Party were also among the supporters of the rules change.
The tightening of rules came following outrage after it was revealed that another far-right European political party, AENM, had been granted hundreds of thousands of euros. When the European Parliament took the decision to tighten up its regulations, lawmakers enthusiastically hailed the termination of funding to AENM.
”Now we have introduced clear rules on who is entitled to funding, and from now on parties will have to provide documentation showing they subscribe to democracy and stand up for civil rights,” Göran Färm of the Swedish Social Democrats told Expo in 2014.
Flood of money continues
However, Expo’s investigation shows that the flow of money never stopped. Since 2014, the European Union has granted 2,3 million euros in funding to both AENM and APF as well as their associated foundations.
The grand total of subsidies paid to these organizations over the years since they were established amounts to nearly 3 million euros.
Lawmakers knew nothing
The grants since 2014 have been completely unknown to the Swedish deputies in the European Parliament who pushed through the rules change.
”As I understood it back then, we were certain we had changed the rules. It was a reasonable conclusion. We do set a budget each year, and to eliminate a certain item in the budget should not be a problem”, MEP Marita Ulvskog tells Expo.
The Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) which first caused the furore has, since 2014, been granted over one million euros in subsidies. Their associated foundation, Identités & Traditions Européennes, has been granted some €610,000. The total amount comes to around 1,7 million euros.
This year, the far right European-level party Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) has been granted some €400,000 in EU subsidies. The party’s foundation, Europa Terra Nostra, has been granted nearly €200,000.
The reason the subsidies have continued to be granted, despite the tightening of rules, is a clause in the law which the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, signed in Strasbourg on 22 October, 2014. According to this clause, the rules change will not take effect until January, 2017.
This key clause in the law appears to have gone unnoticed by many lawmakers in the European Parliament.
”We were unaware that it would take three years before the rules are implemented. Now, I was not in the budget committee, and did not work with the technical details of the change. As the head of my delegation of deputies, I was active in getting people to support the change,” Marita Ulvskog says.
”To me it is surprising”
That there should be three-year delay before the new rules take effect also comes as a surprise to then-MEP Göran Färm of the Social Democrats. In 2014, he led the social democratic parliamentary group, S&D, in the European Parliament’s budget committee. However, he left the European Parliament later that year and has not been involved in decisions to continue granting subsidies to AENM and APF.
Like his colleagues, Göran Färm thought the rules change would take effect sooner.
”I never understood that it would take until 2017 before anything happens. The legislative process is not always the fastest in the world, but as I remember it, this was a statute that did not require so much time. To me this is surprising. I believed this would have a much quicker effect,” Göran Färm says.
Nothing happened, how is that possible?
”In this case I find it terrible, in other cases it can be reasonable for changes to take time, but I thought the effect on parties that do not abide by the EU’s fundamental values would come much faster,” Färm says.
The Alliance for Peace and Freedom, APF, was even set up after you changed the regulations, and now the EU has granted them money?
”Of course that makes it even worse. I cannot explain why it has been taking this long,” Göran Färm says.
”Missed the oh so important detail”
The MEP Fredrick Federley of the Swedish Centre Party is critical of the European Parliament’s handling of the subsidies issue. He was not a MEP in 2014 when the rules change was voted through.
”I was not a part of the process, but evidently many believed that the changes would apply immediately. It may be that people were pleased that the decision was carried through but in the event, they missed the oh so important detail about when the decision would come into force,” Federley says.
”This was decided in 2014, an election year. The risk is that something slips through when everyone is out campaigning. I do not believe there have been political motives in delaying this. I think it was a work-related accident that the rules change has been taking so long,” he continues.
Emergency EU meeting
Expo’s report about the hundreds of thousands of euros in subsidies to the APF and their foundation Europa Terra Nostra has prompted Marita Ulvskog to call for an emergency meeting of the social democratic parliamentary group, S&D, in the European Parliament.
”We have to do something now, we have been in touch over the weekend with various groups and representatives. We have to meet and go through this before we approach the administration. We cannot just allow this to go on. I hope it is possible to stop the cash flow even now by referring to the EU’s democracy clause. I will do everything I can,” Marita Ulvskog tells Expo.
Factbox | AENM and APF
AEMN – Alliance of European National Movements
Founded in 2009.
Chairman: Béla Kovács, Hungary, Jobbik
Secretary General: Valerio Cignetti, Italy, Fiamma Tricolore
Board member: Zmago Jelinčič Plemeniti, Slovenia, SNS
It is unclear which other parties and persons constitute AEMN. Previously, parties such as Svoboda of Ukraine, the National Democrats of Sweden and the Front National of France have been part of AEMN.
Parties and politicians affiliated with AENM:
Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary, was originally started in 1999 at Hungarian universities as the student organization of Hungary’s then-biggest far right party, MÍEP. In 2003, Jobbik was re-established as a political party calling itself radical-nationalist.
In 2007, Jobbik created a paramilitary wing, Magyar Gárda, the Hungarian Guard. They wear uniforms reminiscent of the nazi Arrow Cross Party and other free corps of the 1930s, conduct weapons training, and perform parades at Jobbik meetings, in addition to their own marches.
Magyar Gárda was ordered dissolved by the Hungarian courts on 2 July, 2009. The Guard now calls itself a cultural association. The marches continue. Jobbik has been frequently noted for its blatant and unabashed racism. One example among many is when Márton Gyöngyösi, the party’s deputy parliamentary leader, claimed in parliament that Jews are a security risk and demanded that all Jewish citizens of Hungary be listed.
Movimento Sociale – Fiamma Tricolore, Italy
The party was established in 1995 by Pino Rauti, the former leader of Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI). In 2004, he founded the Movimento Idea Sociale. The neo-fascist Fiamma Tricolore is closely ideologically related to the fascism which governed the Italian Social Republic led by Mussolini in 1943–1945, propped up by Nazi Germany.
Slovenska Nacionalna Stranka, Slovenia
The SNS describes itself as a nationalist party. The party leader, Zmago Jelinčič Plemeniti, has said during a television appearance that the politics of the left is only about giving benefits to everything and everyone, for example to ”blacks” and ”gypsies”.
APF, Alliance for Peace and Freedom
Formally founded in 2015, but active by 2014.
President/Chairman: Roberto Fiore, Forza Nuova, Italy
Deputy Chairman: Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Golden Dawn, Greece
Deputy Chairman: Nick Griffin, British Unity, United Kingdom
Secretary General: Stefan Jacobsson, Sweden
Board member: Jens Pühse, NPD, Germany
Board member: Thomas Vandas, DSSS, Czechia
Board member: Gonzalo Martin Garcia, Democracia Nacional, Spain
Board member: Daniel Carlsen, Party of the Danes, Denmark
Board member: Olivier Wyssa, France
Board member: Herve van Laethem, Belgium
Parties and politicians affiliated with APF:
Mouvement Nation, Belgium
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, Denmark
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.
Olivier Wyssa, France
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.
Golden Dawn, Greece
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.
Forza Nuova, Italy
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, Spain
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.
Nick Griffin, 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, Sweden
Stefan Jacobsson, formerly the leader of the now-defuct nazi Svenskarnas parti (Party of the Swedes) is the secretary general of the APF as of November 2015.
Workers’ Party of Social Justice, Czechia
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. NPD is currently being investigated and may end up being banned due to Germany’s prohibition against nazi parties.