STRASBOURG, France — The Council of Europe’s assembly on Thursday rejected the creation of a political grouping of far-right European parties as nationalist movements look to make gains in this week’s European Parliament elections.
The Strasbourg-based Parliamentary Assembly has no binding powers, but brings together around 300 lawmakers from 47 states to make recommendations on rights and democracy.
The Council of Europe is separate from the European Union and its parliament, and includes nations such as Turkey and Russia.
“The assembly’s bureau today decided not to recognize the formation of new political grouping of New European Democrats/Europe of Nations (NDE/ENL),” the council said on its Twitter account.
Led by Austrian lawmaker Martin Graf of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the NDE/ENL group looked to bring together nationalist lawmakers from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany’s AfD party and Italy’s League.
The request to recognize the new grouping was made last year.
“The Council of Europe was founded to protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The FPOe, AfD and the League want to destroy democracy,” said German Social-Democrat and assembly member Frank Schwabe.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe currently has six political groupings. The delegations are chosen to equally represent the political parties.
Euroskeptic, anti-immigration parties including France’s far-right National Rally and Italy’s League want to score more seats in this week’s European Parliament election to shake up the Brussels establishment.