The post-coronavirus Europe will offer a chance to rebuild the continent’s identity, the leader of the Italian League party, Matteo Salvini, told journalists in an online interview on Tuesday.
“The European Union must find its soul, its backbone, its mission, it cannot be a mere supermarket or business center, because it will not be able to respond to the needs of 500 million Europeans,” Salvini said. He was speaking before a Thursday meeting in Budapest with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
He believed that it was the epidemic that offered the opportunity to create a “different, real” Europe and a European Union with a “new role, a new meaning”.
He thanked Viktor Orbán and Mateusz Morawiecki for giving him the same honors that a prime minister would receive, although he does not currently hold a government position. He added that the League is the largest Italian party preparing to govern in the next election.
Salvini added that his trip to Budapest will be not a short journey, as in the absence of direct flights, he will have to travel seven hours from Rome to Budapest.
He noted that the League, Hungary’s Fidesz and Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party share common European values, but the time was not ripe to discuss creating a separate faction in the European Parliament, according to Hungarian news outlet Magyar Nemzet.
“No joint party group will be formed… In Budapest, we will discuss the vision of the future Europe, and we deal with work, welfare, security, identity, family, education, defense, migration, foreign policy, health cooperation, and the real life of our citizens. We are presenting a common charter with common values, purpose and reason,” Salvini said.
He mentioned the Hungarian family policy as an example to encourage population growth in Europe.
According to Salvini, some European treaties that hinder growth need to be revised. He stressed that Europe needs to do more on certain issues and give nation states freedom in areas such as electoral or judicial reform and family policy, rather than tying them up with bureaucracy.
“Where is Europe when the epidemic is a source of concern for migrants?” asked the leader of the Italian right-wing party, adding that the EU did not properly monitor the vaccination process against the coronavirus and that those who made mistakes should therefore be held accountable.
Salvini said that the consultation with Orbán and Morawiecki was the first stop on his planned tour of European capitals, in which he wants to discuss the same topics in Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany, among others.
He added that the League’s accession to the European People’s Party is not on the agenda.
“Joining the EPP is only in the interest of the press, while neither the League nor 60 million Italians consider this issue a priority,” Salvini said.
He said that his dream is to unite the party families of Identity and Democracy and the European Conservatives and Reformists, as this would form the second largest faction, making Europe big again, returning to its original values. Salvini noted that he was not trying any other political “experiment”.
The League is currently a member of the European Identity and Democracy party family, founded in 2019.
The Law and Justice (PiS) belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which was formed in 2009 and includes the Brothers of Italy (FdI) party. FdI leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party is a member of the Italian center-right coalition led by Salvini, was elected president of the ECR last September.