To form a parliamentary group in the European Parliament, an assortment of at least 25 MEPs from at least seven member states must come together. Group formation allows allocated speaking time in debates, committee membership, financial resources and the provision of research and advice to MEPs working on policy in their committees. In other words, to form a group is essential if you want to get things done. Unlike the Italian Parliament, the European Parliament has no "mixed group". MEPs without an affiliation have to sit on their own at the back of the chamber and without resources.
Beppe Grillo's Five-Stars-Movement may wish to avoid links to the far-right or to anyone who is corrupted. It could ally with independents or with new protest parties born from the economic crisis. The Grillo movement already has 17 MEPs and therefore needs a minimum of eight more from at least six other countries. Not including UKIP, here is a menu to choose from:
Alternative for Germany – 7 MEPs. The AfD would prefer an alliance with the British Conservatives. However, if Cameron refuses them in order not to offend Angela Merkel, the AfD could prefer Grillo over UKIP given that AfD shares the Five-Stars-Movement's opposition to the euro but not the EU. Grillo would have to tone down his anti-German rhetoric in this case. If the AfD is not available, there is the comic Die Partei (1 MEP) from Germany, which could converge in policy with Grillo and/or the German Tierschutzpartei (1 MEP), which is an ecological party that broke away from the official Greens in Germany.
Possibly Podemos, a new left-wing protest movement born from the indignados with 5 MEPs. Podemos might not get into the European United Left Group led by Alexis Tsipras, because Spain already has another party in that group. If refused by the Tsipras bloc, Podemos could ally with Grillo unless Grillo's links with Farage have already undermined any chance for his Movement to ally with small left-wing parties. Also from Spain and mutually exclusive from Podemos is the centrist, anti-decentralisation, UPyD with 4 MEPs. It can’t get into the ALDE (Liberal) Group because its views conflict with those of the Catalan and Basque nationalists already resident there. Grillo could provide it with the only home available.
The new anti-censorship protest party BBT has 2 MEPs and no realistic hope of getting into a centrist group in the EP unless it can reach a deal with Grillo. BBT arose in the recent street protests in Bulgaria against corruption and media control. Its root is therefore quite similar to that of the Five-Stars-Movement and Podemos in Spain.
The Slovak Liberals SAS (1 MEP) are centrist and liberal but anti-euro. They have indicated that they don’t want to be part of the ALDE Liberal Group but could prefer the Conservatives. The problem is that the European Conservatives led by the British Tories already host a different Slovak party. If SAS wants to leave ALDE and can’t get into the ECR, Grillo would be the obvious destination.
Luke “Ming” Flanagan was elected as an independent on an anti-austerity, anti-euro, pro-drugs liberalisation ticket. He could join the Green Group but why not join Grillo given the discredit in which the Green Party of Ireland stands and his opposition to EMU if not the EU, an approach he shares with Grillo and the AfD. One prize that Grillo could offer Flanagan is membership of whichever EP committee Flanagan chooses. Given Flanagan's past record, either Citizens' Rights and Freedoms or the Economics Committee come to mind.
Mircea Diacanu is an independent MEP and ex-Liberal. If the ALDE group won’t have him back, Grillo is the obvious choice. However, there are rumours that the Romanian National Liberals intend to defect from the ALDE to the EPP. If this happens, then ALDE would welcome Diacanu as an independent. Grillo just has to bid higher.
New left-wing protest party Varjemen (1 MEP) might ally with Grillo unless it can get into the Green or European Left groups.
Like the German Tierschutzpartei, the animal rights’ party (PVDD – 1 MEP) might be available if it can’t get into the Green Group. A Grillo group could offer the PVDD greater flexibility than the Greens if the structure of a Grillo group is loose and about resource provision for independents. One asset that Grillo could offer to both the Tierschutzpartei and the PVDD that the Greens may not be able to match is guaranteed membership of the Environment or Agriculture Committees.
Some of the parties listed above may find homes elsewhere or be mutually incompatible. Members from at least seven countries: Italy, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ireland, Romania could be recruited. What makes this less likely is that Grillo may have put potential future allies in a difficult position by so visibly embracing Nigel Farage. It is difficult to see how he could reach agreement with Romanian, Bulgarian or Spanish leftist Podemos MEPs given his endorsement of Farage as a non-racist.
If the Five-Stars-Movement/UKIP Group goes ahead, Grillo faces a further difficulty. From which five other parties will such a group draw its minimum number of members? The Danish People's Party, Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party (TB/LNNK), True Finns, and Sweden Democrats are still planning to be in a group with UKIP. Does the Five-Stars-Movement really want to share space with them?