Europa Viva 24: Right Ready to Change Europe

Politics - May 21, 2024

Tangueri, stands from every province of Spain, typical music and food set the stage for three days of panels and speeches at Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid during the Europa Viva 24 event, organized by the European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR) and Vox. The European Conservative Party, chaired by Giorgia Meloni, and the Spanish right-wing led by Santiago Abascal gave their final push ahead of the European elections on June 6-9.

In addition to the initial virtual appearances by Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Polish leader of Law and Justice (PiS) Mateusz Morawiecki, the event concluded with speeches from Argentine President Javier Milei and Marine Le Pen. The Argentine president was welcomed by the Spanish crowd like a rock star. He took the stage to the notes of “the roar of the lion.” He arrived in Madrid on Friday but did not meet with either Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez or King Felipe VI. Milei took the stage singing and rallying the crowd with his flamboyant style. He sang the first verse of the song that accompanied his presidential campaign, “Panic Show” by the band La Renga: “Hola a todos, Yo soy el León, Rugió la bestia en medio de la avenida”.

Le Pen, leader of Rassemblement National, made a surprise appearance, as her French right-wing party is not part of the ECR but belongs to the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which includes Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Alternative für Deutschland. “My dear friends,” she said during her speech, “we have a common vision for Europe. And tomorrow, when we arrive in great numbers at the European Parliament, it will be time to start changing the direction of the European Union.” Le Pen, one of the most applauded speakers, emphasized her common ground with Meloni, stating that “it’s not a matter of individuals but of freedom.” She reiterated her long-standing positions on the need for Europe to protect its peoples and nations, and to seek allies for freedom against the “single model imposed by the European Union.” She was harshly critical of other current EU leaders: “We are the only ones who truly defend the European motto ‘united in diversity.’ In Macron and Von der Leyen’s Europe, we are turned into subjugated uniformity, and they are the destroyers.”

These sentiments were echoed by the Italian Prime Minister, who stated, “For the first time, the outcome of the European elections could mark the end of unnatural and counterproductive majorities.” He also addressed what Europe has become: “A tired, submissive, and pampered continent that thought it could exchange identity for ideology, freedom for comfort, and is now inevitably paying the price for its choices. But not all is lost. When history calls, people like us do not back down. We haven’t done so until now, and we certainly won’t do so now.” Meloni recalled the joint action with Vox and the initial skepticism about their parties and what happened after: “Dear Santiago, my friend. We started our common journey in the European Parliament in 2019. And since then, our political paths have always been very similar. From the beginning, they tried to disdain us. They tried to isolate us. They tried to divide us. And they ended up strengthening us.” In short, preparations for a European center-right in anticipation of the election results and the future European scenario.

Antonio Giordano, ECR’s Secretary General, explained the decision to gather in the Spanish capital: “We came to Madrid because we were invited by our partners Vox and also because, from the first time I attended their event, I realized they know how to organize celebrations that integrate politics with entertainment, culture, and tradition. In this instance, we used a bullring to host our event in the center, right where bulls once fought.” An iconic venue from which to launch their challenge to the stars.

Europa Viva 24 began on Friday afternoon with the Youth International Meeting. Young people from over 25 countries, including Argentina and Bolivia, took the stage. “The event spanned three days, but my favorite day,” Giordano continued, “was Friday, where we had young people from all over the world. On Sunday, prominent figures like Javier Milei and Santiago Bascal, as well as Meloni, spoke. Sixty young people alternated on the stage, nearly as many boys and girls, and they were extraordinary. We are preparing the Europeans of the next generation.”

From the first day, there were no shortages of controversies and protests. Groups from social centers across Europe, many affiliated with Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, gathered in the city. Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez harshly criticized the conservative gathering, calling it “the international of the far-right.” Alberto Tarradas, a member of the Catalan parliament, responded to these criticisms: “The left barks, the left complains, but the patriots ride and advance towards the future of sovereignty that all Europeans dream of. In a few weeks, we will be able to advance our vision.” Tarradas added, “Europa Viva is disliked by the left, and naturally, the president opposed this event, but this does not stop Vox’s international alliances.”

Radosław Fogiel, Vice President of the ECR and a key figure in PiS, explained the growing unity of the European right: “We conservatives must support each other because we fight for the same values, we fight for the same vision of Europe. That European Union envisioned by the founding fathers, a Europe of sovereign nations.”

During the event, the conservatives’ manifesto was presented, outlining their vision and the role of the continent in ten points. “Two require particular attention. The first,” continued Fogiel, “is preserving the sovereignty of member states. Today, we face forces that want to change the treaties and transform the EU into a sort of European superstate, not even a federal state where there is a minimum of sovereignty. The left wants everything to be decided in Brussels. We want to stop it.” The second point concerns security, both from a migratory and geopolitical perspective. “On one hand, we must protect European borders and ensure that our cities and towns are safe. Illegal immigration must be stopped. On the other hand, we face authoritarian states like Russia invading Ukraine and threatening other NATO and EU member states, along with the entire axis of evil, including Iran, which is organizing worldwide.” For these reasons, according to the Vice President of European conservatives, “we cannot focus on things like the woke movement, cancel culture, and all other leftist ideas.”

In summary, European conservatives are ready to change the Old Continent through sensible battles that can truly restore a central role in the geopolitical chessboard, both militarily and economically. Nothing is lost yet. The upcoming European elections, scheduled for June 6-9, are crucial because the future of all is at stake. On one side is the left’s ideology, on the other, the pragmatism of those who understand how complex the times we live in and will face in the coming decades are. Thinking of continuing to play a supporting role rather than being protagonists is demeaning to the millennia-long history we honorably carry forward. There is the possibility of becoming the third largest group in the European Parliament. Surpassing Emmanuel Macron’s centrist group, Renew Europe, is truly possible. Creating a large European center-right is possible.