ADDE political party misspent €500 000 and will need to reimburse
The European Parliament Bureau (its President and Vice-Presidents) has ascertained that a total sum of €500,615.55 from the 2015 expenditure of the European political party ADDE was non-eligible for a grant given by the European Parliament. The ADDE will need to pay back €172,655 and will not receive the remaining 20% of the grant (€248,345) allocated to the party for 2015.
The Bureau took note of conclusions by an external auditor and Parliament’s administration, who found that a number of activities underlying the invoices submitted by the ADDE were not in line with the rules governing grants to parties and foundations. These rules forbid inter alia financing of national political parties, financing of national election campaigns and candidates or referendum campaigns.
The European Parliament awards annual operational grants to European political parties and foundations. The grants can be used to cover 85% of the eligible expenses linked to the operations and activities of the parties and foundations, such as personnel and administrative costs, meetings and conferences, studies, publications, personnel and campaign costs related to European elections. Parties and foundations receive an advance on their subsidy of 80% at the beginning of a given year. The ADDE will now not receive the remaining 20% of the grant (€248,345) allocated for 2015 and will need to reimburse a sum of €172,654.92 from the 80% of the grant which was advanced to the party. The checks are an annual administrative accounting exercise which all parties and foundations undergo and during which they have the opportunity to submit documentation contesting the administration findings.
The activities of the ADDE which were found to breach the rules for European party financing, were nine opinion polls held in the UK ahead of the 2015 general elections as well as ahead of the EU referendum in 2016, and a report on these polls. The expenditure linked to the services of three consultants was considered non-eligible by an external auditor and by the Parliament’s administration.
Other ADDE expenditure categorised as non-eligible for financing is linked to a Belgian national party. A total of €59,301.30 in claims was rejected because of national party financing and a conflict of interest.
In the case of the IDDE foundation, which is affiliated to the ADDE party, expenses to the tune of €33,863.50 were found to be non-eligible for financing. Among the non-eligible expenditure was a sum of €14,500 paid for an advertisement in the Dutch national daily De Telegraaf in which Dutch voters were canvassed for their signatures in order to organise a referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Treaty.
Each year, European political parties and foundations submit a programme of activities for the following year to Parliament, on the basis of which a grant is decided. The parties and foundations receive 80% of that grant as an advance. The year after the party or foundation programme has been implemented, an external auditor checks the accounts, after which the European Parliament administration performs additional risk-based checks before the Bureau of the European Parliament adopts the final report.
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*Political parties at European level should not be confused with political groups in the European Parliament. A political party at European level is an organisation following a political programme, which is composed of national parties and individuals as members and which is represented in several Member States. As mentioned in the Treaties, "political parties at European level contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union .
Political groups consist solely of MEPs who have joined like-minded MEPs from other countries to perform their parliamentary work. Political groups are provided with a secretariat and administrative facilities, funded by Parliament's budget. These funds and facilities are managed by the groups and audited. “Non-attached" MEPs (i.e. those who do not belong to a political group) are also provided with a secretariat and have rights. The funds available to political groups are intended to cover the administrative and operational cost of a group's staff as well as expenditure on political and information activities in connection with the European Union's political activities.