Political parties and political foundations at European level 

Political parties at the European level

What is a political party at the European level?

A European political party is an organisation that follows a political programme. It is composed of national parties and/or individual members, represented in several Member States and registered with the Authority for European political parties and European political foundations (‘Authority’). As mentioned in the Treaties, "political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union”.

Among the conditions for recognition are that member parties must be represented in at least one quarter of the Member States, by members of the European Parliament, of national parliaments, of regional parliaments or of regional assemblies.

See Article 10 paragraph 4 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 224 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to find out more.

 

How are political parties at European level funded?

Since July 2004, European political parties have access to annual funding from the European Parliament through an operational grant. It can cover up to 90% of the party’s expenditure, while the rest should come from own resources, such as membership fees and donations. New funding rules for European political parties and foundations were approved by the European Parliament on 17 April 2018.

 

What can and cannot be paid from the grant?

The grant should cover expenditure directly linked to the objectives set out in the party's political programme such as:

  • meetings and conferences,
  • publications, studies and advertisements,
  • administrative, personnel and travel costs, or
  • campaign costs related to European elections

The grant may not be used for:

  • campaign costs for referenda and elections (except for European elections),
  • direct or indirect funding of national parties, election candidates and political foundations both at national and at European level, or
  • debts and debt service charges.

 

Political foundations at the European level

What is a political foundation at European level? 

A political foundation at European level is affiliated with a European political party while it underpins and complements the objectives of that party. A European political foundation makes analyses and contributes to debates on European public policy issues. It also participates in related activities like organising seminars, training, conferences and studies.

 

How is a political foundation at European level financed? 

Foundations were funded from October 2007 to August 2008 by action grants awarded by the European Commission under a pilot project. The European Parliament took over funding as of September 2008 and now awards annual operating grants. The grant may cover up to 90 % of a foundation's expenditure, while the rest should be covered by own resources, such as membership fees and donations.

What may or may not be paid from the grant?

The grant can be used to fund expenditure directly linked to the activities set out in the foundation's programme of activities, such as:

  • meetings and conferences,
  • publications, studies and advertisements, or
  • administrative, personnel and travel costs.

 

The grant may not be used to fund expenditure such as, inter alia:

  • campaign costs for referenda and elections,
  • direct or indirect funding of national parties, election candidates and national political foundations, or
  • debts and debt service charges.

 

Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations

Since 2016 European Political Parties and European Political Foundations are registered and controlled by the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (http://www.appf.europa.eu/appf/en/authority/welcome.html) (the 'Authority'), who can also impose sanctions on them. The Authority is independent from the EU parliament. Where doubts arise about whether a party or foundation are living up to the necessary requirements, the EP, Council or Commission may lodge a request with the Authority to verify the situation. Before coming to a decision on whether to de-register a party or foundation, the Authority must consult a Committee of independent eminent persons. The Authority is represented by its Director who takes all decisions of the Authority on its behalf.