European political parties to receive EU money

The Parliament approved at its 19 June plenary session a Regulation on the statute and financing of European political parties.

Amending a draft Regulation by the Commission, MEPs decided that the European political parties should be at least partially funded by the Community budget. According to the MEPs, the regulation should simply lay down the rules on funding and not establish a statute as such for the European parties.

To receive financing from the Community’s 8.4 million euro annual purse, the affected parties must file applications with the Parliament. The appropriations will be managed by the Parliament. To obtain funding, a European political party must have received at least 3 per cent of the votes cast at the most recent European elections in at least one quarter of the Member States. A political party which receives funding must publish annually its revenue and expenditure and a statement of its assets and liabilities, and must declare its sources of finance by listing its donors and donations exceeding 500 euro. MEPs decided that European political parties should be allowed to charge membership fees.

 

PESPresident Robin Cook welcomed the decision as a "boost for democracy at EU level".EPP-ED Groupspokesperson Ursula Schleicher expressed support for the new regulation, stressing that "if you want transparency, you need clear rules".

In a joint statement,MEPs Jens-Peter Bonde (Denmark), Graham Booth (UK), Nigel Farage (UK) and Jeffrey Titford (UK)dismissed the Council's proposal as "illegal and certainly immoral". Some MEPs have declared their intention to take the case to the European Court of Justice, as they consider the new regulation discriminatory against the smaller political groups.

 

The Parliament on 19 June adopted a report on the statute and financing of European political parties, drawn up German PES Group member Jo Leinen. The vote was 345 in favour, 102 against and 34 abstentions.

 

The regulation is set to enter into force at the start of Parliament's next term of office.

 

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