The Irish-born Libertas movement, which was instrumental in obtaining a ‘no’ vote in the June 2008 Lisbon Treaty referendum in Ireland, acquired pan-European party status yesterday (2 February), opening the door for the party to receive EU funding.
Just five months ahead of the European elections, Libertas, the organisation launched by Irish businessman Declan Ganley, joined the ranks of ten other registered pan-European political groups that are eligible to receive funding from the European Parliament.
As required by EU criteria, elected representatives from seven different EU countries registered as members of the new European political party, allowing the group to obtain recognition as being genuinely pan-European.
The members of the new European party are: British MP Lord Alton of Liverpool, French MEPs Philippe de Villiers and Paul Marie Couteaux, Greek MEP Georgios Georgiou, Finnish MP Timo Soini, Estonian MP Igor Grazin, Bulgarian MP Mincho Hristov and Cyprian Gutkovski, a Polish member of a regional assembly.
Registered pan-European parties such as Libertas receive a 100,000 euro subsidy, plus extra cash according to the number of participating MEPs. But it appears instead to be political stature that is important for Ganley and former Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, one the main architects of the ‘upgrading’ of Libertas.