Today the EU’s general affairs ministers reached political agreement (a partial general approach) on the recast of the regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations.
The revision aims to enhance the transparency of and bolster the framework for the funding of European political parties while trying to limit the administrative burden that European political parties might have to bear. It will also facilitate action by European political parties, which are a vehicle for EU citizens to express their will in the member states.
The transparency of political campaigns and elections is vital to protect the democratic process. Citizens have a right to know where party funding comes from. The regulation will help increase transparency and limit foreign interference.Clément Beaune, French Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs
Main changes introduced by the Council
The Council proposed some amendments to the Commission’s initial proposal, mainly to:
- Remove the provisions of the Commission proposal allowing European political parties and European political foundations to receive contributions from their members that have their seat in a country that belongs to the Council of Europe and whose seat is located outside the EU.
- Return to the regime provided by the current regulation, which allows for co-financing of 10% for European political parties and 5% for European political foundations. The Commission had proposed aligning the co-financing rate at 5% for European political parties and European political foundations alike.
- Require the authority for European political parties to provide evidence if the regulation is infringed before deciding to impose a financial sanction on the infringing parties and organisations.
- Specify that the citizens who may form a political alliance are EU citizens and that only national parties from EU countries can form such an alliance under the regulation.
- Require European political parties and European political foundations to provide their written declaration concerning respect for EU values every year.
- Exclude national referendums from the co-financing of national campaigns beyond the context of European Parliament elections.
- Clarify that the new accounting category introduced by the Commission linked to the financial income generated by the activities of the parties or foundations (‘self-generated resources’) should not encourage them to pursue a profit-making goal. This source of revenue will be limited to 2% of their annual budget.
- Lower the threshold for the new arrangements applicable to donations proposed by the Commission from €3 000 to €1 500 per year per donor. Above that fixed amount, donors will have to provide the necessary information for their proper identification. The authority for European political parties and European political foundations will be able to carry out checks if it suspects the regulation’s rules on donations have been breached.
- Remove the possibility of sanctions when party members have not maintained information on the gender representation among their candidates at the last elections to the European Parliament on their websites, since this is already a criterion for the granting of funds.