Fine Gael MEPs have rubbished comments from Labour leader Brendan Howlin regarding the EPP Group and its values.
MEP Seán Kelly, leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, said Deputy Howlin’s comments verge on populist and are an attempt to grab headlines.
MEP Kelly said: “The EPP Group believes in the European social model as the foundation of the social market economy, and that the European Union should always take social requirements into account when setting its policies – this is a very much a centrist ideology.
“The EPP and the S&D Group, to which Labour are affiliated, have been aligned on many issues past and present, and the S&D had no problem cooperating with the EPP Group in order to keep Martin Schulz in office as President for 5 years.
“Indeed Mr. Howlin himself found enough common ground with Fine Gael to hold a ministerial position in coalition.
“The EPP is a big political family and naturally there are different viewpoints – and I have gone on the record to condemn actions of certain EPP members – but at the centre are the core common values of responsibility, respect, solidarity and justice, as envisaged by the EU founding fathers.”
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said: “If we are part of Europe’s right wing political family why did the social democrats, of which Labour is a part, go into a coalition with us in the EU Parliament for the last three years?
“Why is every major advance in Europe from the Junkers Plan to Capital Markets Union – an agreed position between the centre left (LAB/S&D) and centre right?
“Whether in Ireland or in Europe, Fine Gael is committed to taking the best from left and right to grow the centre ground of politics.
“We are not bound by 19th century categorisation of politics as right and left, labour versus capital, markets versus state control. The future is about free trade vs closed economies, open societies vs closed countries.”