"We have a big meeting scheduled with Salvini and our European allies in Milan in mid-May… We hope that with our Italian, Austrian allies and allies from other countries we will constitute a group maybe not the most numerous but important enough to influence decisions of the European Parliament. Moreover, if we have a considerable group we can hope to have responsibilities in the [European] Commission," Thierry Mariani, a member of the French party and a candidate in the elections, told Sputnik on the sidelines of the Yalta International Economic Forum.
The politician, who is currently on a visit to Russia's Crimea as the head of the French delegation, added that after the European Parliament elections the National Rally and its allies would seek other partners in the European Union, including in Poland.
"Then after the elections there will be discussions with other groups and other states to see how we can constitute a group. The main question is whether we will succeed — and that is what I am looking for — to make a large group which will bring together the people around Salvini and also with the Polish, where we will have two groups," Mariani said.
On Friday, Salvini announced on his Twitter that the National Rally had formally joined his bloc. The pan-European coalition also reportedly includes Alternative for Germany, Austria's Freedom Party, the Danish People's Party, Finland's Finns Party and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia.
The populist bloc was formed to unite and boost disparate right-wing parties ahead of crucial EU elections next month.
The European Parliament elections are slated for May 23-26.