Front National forms far-right group in European parliament

France's nationalist Front National (FN) party and the Netherlands' Freedom Party (PVV) have joined forces to spearhead a eurosceptic, far-right bloc in the European Parliament, party leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders announced today.

FN president Le Pen has worked closely with PVV leader Geert Wilders since last year's European parliamentary elections saw far-right parties across Europe record dramatic surges in support. Le Pen's party won a higher vote share than any other party in France, electing 24 MEPs. The minimum requirement for a political group in European parliament is that its membership consists of at least 25 MEPs, from at least seven different countries.

The new group could be eligible to receive as much as €17.5 million in public money over the next four years, EU news source Euractiv reports, although this funding is not to be used in matters of national politics.

Le Pen and Wilders were joined by other far-right and eurosceptic party leaders to officially unveil the Europe of Nations and Freedoms group (ENF) in Brussels today. Besides Le Pen's Front National and Wilder's PVV, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), Italy's Northern League (LN) and the Belgian Vlaams Belang have declared their intention of joining too, according to French daily newspaper Le Figaro.

Despite reports that Hungary's radical nationalist Jobbik will join the group, the party have told Hungarian press that they have not received an invite to do so and will not be a part of the alliance.

Le Pen initially confirmed the group would be launched today on Twitter last night while Wilders tweeted the above image of the two sipping champagne in Brussels this morning ahead of the press conference.

A full list of which MEPs will join the group has not been released, however French newspaper Le Monde has reported that Le Pen and Marcel de Graaff from PVV will co-chair the group, while disgraced former Front National president Jean Marie Le Pen and his ally Bruno Gollnisch will not take part.

Le Pen senior, the founder and former president of the party, has had an ongoing feud with his daughter and successor Marine over the party's core identity. His recent comments describing the Nazi gas chambers in WWII as a "detail" prompted the party to rescind his honorary title and ability to speak on behalf of the party.

Although the UK Independence party (Ukip) led by Nigel Farage will not join the new eurosceptic formation, former member Janice Atkinson has joined Le Pen's group, switching allegiances from Farage's Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD). The EFDD and new ENF are likely to vote together on many issues, with their policies on the EU and immigration particularly overlapping. The parties involved in the new bloc voted with Farage's group against a resolution on Russia last week.