Italy’s president has warned MEPs that rising Euroscepticism could destroy the EU.
Giorgio Napolitano was heckled by members of the nationalist Northern League as he made his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“I believe that we should consider the situation we are in as a moment of truth for the causes of unity and the future of Europe,” said the Italian head of state.
But eurosceptics argue the pro-EU camp are simply out of touch.
One British MEP linked them with Europe’s far-right parties.
“In every society we have the political equivalent of some of the hooliganism we see at football matches,” said Graham Watson. “That you see with the United Kingdom Independence party, with the Lega Nord here, with the Front National from France – but I recognise that we will have growing numbers of MEPs here from populist or extremist parties.”
Italian euroscepticism has a new force in these European elections: Beppe Grillo’s 5star movement, which succeeded in splitting the vote in Italy’s general election last year.