The leading candidate of the European Social Democrats, Nicolas Schmit, expressly warns Commission President Ursula von der Leyen against working with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni after the European elections.

“Von der Leyen wants us to believe that there are good right-wing extremists and bad ones,” he said in an interview with Table.Briefings. “If there is an agreement between the two, with Meloni’s conditions, then that will be a problem for us Social Democrats.”

The Luxembourger is attaching conditions to the Social Democrats’ approval of von der Leyen’s second term in office. Von der Leyen had previously defended Meloni as “clearly pro-European”. Schmit replied: “That almost makes me laugh, laugh bitterly.” Meloni is smart enough not to bang his fist on the table in the circle of heads of state and government. “But their vision is certainly not a strong, integrated Europe. She is a nationalist.”