Transparency, EU values, and pluralism: new rules for European political parties

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs suggest improved donation monitoring, withholding funds when member parties do not comply with EU values, and reducing unnecessary administrative obstacles.

On Thursday Parliament proposed several ways to strengthen European democracy in a report assessing the existing rules on the statute and funding of European political parties and foundations. The report was adopted with 428 votes in favour, 092 against, and 49 abstentions.

Respect for European values

MEPs underline that funding for European political parties and foundations is conditional on respect for EU values. They welcome the reinforcement of monitoring provisions and the procedure for infringements, including sanctions and the recovery of funds. However, rules should be adapted to also ensure respect for EU values by the constituent parties of each European political party. To achieve this, MEPs say the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations needs to be strengthened.

Donation transparency

The Authority’s scrutiny should be stronger on reported aggregate donations over €3,000, and especially where sudden increases in the aggregate number of small donations is observed. Parliament reiterates the call to ban all donations from non-EU entities, and suggests that the Authority should publish donations made by the same donor to a European political party and its national member parties. MEPs also call for instruments to be set up by 2027 to ensure that donations exceeding the transparency limits are not made to different legal entities in an effort to circumvent the rules.

Developing a truly European public sphere

Parliament calls on the Commission to assess votes-based funding schemes, and proposes:

  • further harmonisation between European and national rules;
  • lifting the ban on financing referendum campaigns on issues related to the EU Treaties;
  • making it easier for existing transnational political parties to register as European political parties;
  • addressing the flawed design of the rules that limit individual membership of European parties; and
  • allowing members from non-EU European countries (including former EU members) to be affiliated to a party or foundation.

Quotes

Co-rapporteur Charles Goerens (Renew, LU) said: “Our report is a timely one, just as European citizens engage in the largest democratic reflection this continent has ever known, the Conference on the Future of Europe. It will be up to these European political parties, which our report seeks to strengthen, to make real the democratic aspirations that our citizens will express during the Conference.”

Co-rapporteur Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE) said: “I am pleased that we have succeeded in addressing the most important reforms. However, I am afraid we could not send a more ambitious signal to the Commission regarding the introduction of a vote-based funding scheme, which would be more democratic; it would turn the focus of the European political parties more towards turnout at European elections and avoid the ‘closed-shop agreements’ that take place after these elections.”

Next steps

Regulation 1141/2014 sets out an obligation for Parliament to assess it, and for the Commission to draft its own report thereafter, accompanied by a legislative proposal. The Commission is expected to do so on 23 November.

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