New rules on funding European political parties
- European political parties and foundations must be more transparent
- Only national parties, not individuals, can create a European party eligible for funding
- European parties to be de-registered if they provide false information
Constitutional Affairs MEPs improve transparency and proper use of public funds in a revamp of the rules for funding European political parties.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee agreed on Tuesday to a reform of the current regulation.
MEPs strengthened the link between European and national political parties, by requiring national parties to display the logo and political manifesto of their affiliated European party on their websites. This is to be done by a majority of member parties at least 12 months before the funding applications are submitted.
To ensure a closer link between the amount of money made available to a European party and actual voter representation, MEPs propose reducing the share of funding that is currently allocated to all European parties equally from 15 to 10 %.
The remaining 90 percent is to be distributed in proportion to each party’s share of elected MEPs.
Finally, individuals can no longer create a European party - only parties can do so. This is to avoid a national party deploying its individual members to help set up different European parties and thus maximising access to public funds. Individuals can still be members of a European party, but they will not be taken into account when assessing the eligibility of a party to be registered.
Protecting EU’s financial interests
Should a party and its affiliated foundation fail to live up to the necessary sponsoring requirements, or if it provided false information when registering at European level, the independent Authority for European parties must de-register it, MEPs say.
The financial department of the European Parliament should also be able to recover amounts unduly paid, and the European Public Prosecutors Office, yet to start working, is called on to investigate alleged abuse of EU funding relating to political parties.
Easier to access EU funds
Many European political parties and foundations are currently struggling with the existing “co-financing” requirement of 15%, the amount of money they need to provide from other sources to be eligible to receive EU funds. To remedy this, MEPs suggest lowering it to 10 percent for European parties and 5 percent for affiliated foundations.
This would allow a bigger share of public funding earmarked for these parties and foundations to be used, for example for election campaigns, and also limit the questionable practice of contributions in kind, which has been a common tool for balancing the shortfall of standard party membership contributions and donations.
The rules were approved by 19 votes to 2, with 2 abstentions.
“Our report closes loopholes which until now allowed a European Political Party to be created only for financial reasons. Funding will now be linked to actual voting results at the European level, making European political parties more European”, said rapporteur Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE).
“We have managed in this report to adapt the current regulation to the latest developments and needs of European politics. By lowering the threshold for distribution of funds, we have enhanced the democratic representation of political parties and foundations, through financing which is truly proportionate to their presence in the Parliament. While doing so, we safeguarded the prerequisites for a diverse and democratic political landscape, respecting the values of the EU and its financial interests”, said rapporteur Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT).
The Constitutional Affairs Committee also gave the green light to its negotiators to enter into negotiations with EU Ministers to reach a final agreement on the new rules. The whole Parliament will have to confirm this decision before talks can start.