Italy's Meloni rules out rightist merger in EU politics

Italian Prime Minister Meloni participates in a scientific meeting in Rome

TRENTO, Italy (Reuters) - Two pan-European umbrella groups on the furthest right of the political spectrum have no plans to merge but have plenty of room to work together in key areas, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday.

Speculation that there might be a realignment of European political groups rose this week after the populist far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group expelled one of its most extreme members -- the Alternative for Germany (AfD) group.

Meloni's own Brothers of Italy party is a member of the nationalist European Conservatives and Reformists party (ECR), and the Italian leader has previously said she saw points of convergence with elements of the ID, but not AfD.

However, Meloni said on Friday she did not expect any change in the make-up of the rightist camp in Europe.

"There is no unification in sight between the Conservative camp and ID. However, this does not mean that on some issues they cannot collaborate as is already happening," she said at an economic forum in the northern Italian city of Trento.

"There are obviously common points, clearly, in matters of combating illegal immigration, a more pragmatic approach to transitions, particularly the green transition, and the defense of European cultural identity," she said.

One of Meloni's main allies, the League, is part of ID while her other coalition partner, Forza Italia, is a member of the mainstream centre-right European People's Party (EPP).

With elections for the European parliament set for early June, Meloni has said she wanted to replicate at a European level the alliance that underpins her government in Rome.

"I think there is room for change, especially given the possibility of building different majorities than those we have had so far," Meloni said on Friday, in an apparent appeal for the EPP, ECR and ID to work together in the next parliament.

However, such a tie-up looks highly unlikely, with the EPP repeatedly ruling out working with groups in the ID, especially its French member, the National Rally led by Marine Le Pen.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, writing by Crispian Balmer and Alessia Pé; Editing by Alvise Armellini and Hugh Lawson)