MEPs say donations of over €3,000 to parties should be scrutinised

European Parliament calls on Brussels to introduce new donations rules for European political parties and take back money from organisations that do not support EU values

MEPs have voted in a report calling for new rules by 2027 for European political parties and their foundations, in a bid to increase transparency and bind financing to their respect for EU values.

The report, voted in with 428 in favour and 92 against, with 49 abstentions, calls for funding for political parties to be conditional on respect for EU values, and with increases monitoring and sanctions as well fund recovery mechanisms.

MEPs called for the strengthening of the authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations, to scrutinise more intensely aggregate donations of over €3,000, especially where sudden donation spikes are observed.

The MEPs also called for donations from the same donor to both European and national parties to be published, and ensure donations exceeding the transparency limit are not re-routed to different legal entities in a bid to beat the rules.

“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,” said co-rapporteur Charles Goerens (Renew). “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.”

Alongside these measures the Parliament wants to support the further development of a European public sphere and recommended: assessing votes-based funding schemes, 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.

Labour head of delegation Alfred Sant, who voted in favour of the report, said he agreed “only with caution” with a proposal to amend rules to clarify that respect for EU fundamental values should apply to both European political parties and their member parties.

“Such a proviso has to be interpreted with great care since it could be applied in a partisan manner by prevailing political majorities on contentious issues like migration, human rights, abortion, secession from national entities, and religious beliefs and customs,” Sant said.

Sant also found reservations on the point to make financing rules of European political parties and their foundations, compatible with pan-European constituency campaigns at the European elections. “I do not agree with the introduction of such campaigns and anyway believe that this matter falls outside the scope of this resolution.”

Sant however described the proposals as creating a stronger and clearer framework for parties’ status and funding, as well as their foundations. “One cannot but endorse statements requesting that European political parties must observe democratic and transparent procedures when selecting party leaders, candidates for elections, as well as when adopting internal rules and political programmes.”

The European Commission is now set to draft its own report and present it by the 23 November. Co-rapporteur Rainer Wieland (EPP) expressed satisfaction that the most important issues had been addressed but wished Parliament had sent a more ambitious signal to the Commission for a vote-based funding scheme. “I believe it would be more democratic as 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.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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