European political parties: Parliament approves new funding rules
- Stricter rules on accessing public money and recovering misused funds
- Only national parties, not individuals, can form a European political party eligible for funding
- European parties will be de-registered if they provide false information
New rules to ensure that public funding for European political parties and foundations is used properly were approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday.
MEPs backed a European Commission proposal that individuals should no longer be able to form a European party – only national parties can do so. This is to prevent individual members of a national party from forming more than one European party in order to maximise their access to public funds without giving their parties a proper European dimension.
The European Parliament will also be better able to recover unduly paid funds and individuals guilty of fraud will become liable to pay back misspent funds. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has yet to officially start work, is also called upon to investigate alleged abuses in future.
Should a European party and its affiliated foundation fail to live up to the necessary sponsoring requirements, or provide false information when registering, the independent Authority for European Political Parties must de-register it, MEPs say.
Stricter transparency and fairer share of funds
Parliament also wants national parties to display the logo and political manifesto of their affiliated European party on their websites, as a condition for accessing funds. They must do this at least 12 months before submitting applications for funding.
Finally, the revised regulation on funding will reduce the share that is currently allocated equally to all European parties from 15% to 10%. The remaining 90% is to be distributed in proportion to each party’s share of elected MEPs.
The new rules were approved by 561 votes to 89, with 36 abstentions.
“The institutions have worked together well to close loopholes which, until now, allowed a European Political Party to be created only for financial reasons. Cross-party membership will not be possible any more and funding will be linked more precisely to actual voting results at EU level, making European political parties more European and, as more logos will be published online, more visible at the national level”, said lead MEP Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE).
“We have adapted the current regulation to the latest developments and needs of European politics. By lowering the threshold for distribution of funds and focussing on visibility of national member parties, we have enhanced the democratic representation of European political parties and foundations, through financing which is truly proportionate to their presence in the EP”, said lead MEP Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT).
The Council is expected to approve the new regulation on 26 April. Once the amendments have entered into force existing European political parties will have two months to submit proof that they still satisfy the registration criteria. If they do not, the party and its affiliated foundation will be deleted from the register. The Parliament wants to have the new rules in force before the end of June this year, when the call for applications for funding in 2019 (European election year) is due to be published.