Withdrawal from Renew: will Babiš form a new EU group?

Former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš has announced that his Ano party is leaving the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, citing differences of opinion on the Green Deal and migration as the main reasons. There is now speculation in the press and on social media that Babiš will form a new sovereigntist parliamentary group with Orbán's currently partnerless Fidesz party and Fico's Smer.

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Sme (SK) /

Building an alliance

What Babiš is really aiming for is an alliance of naturally compatible partners in Europe, explains Sme:

“He has already spoken to Viktor Orbán about this, as well as with the Slovaks at the inauguration of President Peter Pellegrini. He also plans to bring the winner of the Dutch election Geert Wilders and the Slovenian Janez Janša into the group and Marine Le Pen is to replace Macron. A single MEP from another member state would be enough to complete the group.”

Respekt (CZ) /

Putin will be glad

Respekt wonders what is motivating Babiš:

“With his departure from Renew, he is putting politics above his interests as a businessman in Europe and moving away from compromises and towards people who have tended to inspire fear in Europe up to now. There he'll find room to launch his attacks on 'Brussels'. ... For Central Europe, this could mean a clear shift in position towards those places where Vladimir Putin tends to seek support. And we know from the growing popularity of anti-European parties among voters in recent years that he is able to achieve this.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Babiš' real focus is the Czech parliament

For Hospodářské noviny the move is mainly motivated by domestic objectives:

“As he withdraws from Renew the Ano leader is not at all certain whether he will be able to forge an alliance with Směr and Fidesz, for example, or with Le Pen in France. So he is clearly not primarily concerned with achieving anything at the European level. By leaving the liberals he has above all secured the freedom to take a harsh stance against the European Union in next autumn's parliamentary elections. He will automatically say 'no' to almost everything, and thus endeavour to win over the voters of the small populist Czech parties. For him, European politics is first and foremost a way of doing domestic politics.”