Top EU lawmaker says firewall against German far right stands, but willing to work with Meloni

FILE - Chairman of the European People's Party group of the European Parliament Manfred Weber speaks during a session on one year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The leader of the conservative bloc in the European Parliament said in an interview published Sunday, July 9, 2023, that his party will not cooperate with the far-right Alternative for Germany but expressed a willingness to work with Italy's far-right premier to curb migration. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File) (Jean-Francois Badias, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BERLIN – The leader of the conservative bloc in the European Parliament said in an interview published Sunday that his party would not cooperate with the far-right Alternative for Germany but expressed a willingness to work with Italy's far-right premier to curb migration.

Manfred Weber, the German EU lawmaker who heads the European People’s Party (EPP), dismissed suggestions that his bloc could drop its refusal to cooperate with Alternative for Germany at the state and federal level in the coming years amid growing support for the far-right party.

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“The firewall stands,” Weber told the Funke Medie Group, adding that Alternative for Germany “isn't just a political competitor, but an adversary and enemy.”

Weber, who is also co-leader of the conservative Christian Social Union at the national level, warned that the far right's plans to dismantle the European Union would hurt Germany's economy and security.

Asked whether the EPP's outreach to Italian post-fascist leader Giorgia Meloni undermined the conservatives' stance toward the far right, Weber said it was important to work with all European governments to tackle the challenge of migration.

“We need Italy as well,” he said, adding that fears about unrestricted migration would benefit Alternative for Germany. “We are currently working with Italy to implement a migration agreement with Tunisia. This will reduce the arrivals (or migrants) to the EU.”

Two lawmakers with the Christian Social Union raised eyebrows in Germany this week by voting with Alternative for Germany in the national legislature for the first time. Both later claimed the votes had been in error.