9th Dec 2023

EU tightens rules on political advertising — but not until 2025

  • New rules also ban third countries from sponsoring EU political advertising in the three months before elections or referendums (Photo: Unsplash)
Listen to article

A provisional agreement to make European elections and referendum campaigns more transparent for citizens and more resistant to foreign interference was reached overnight (7 November) by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

The new rules cover paid political advertising and aim to fill a legal gap in the fight against voter manipulation, opaque campaigns, and disinformation, although they will only apply to cross-border campaigns for the 2024 European elections.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

As part of the agreement, offline and online political ads will now have to be labelled as such, and more information will be required about who is funding the advert, the amount of the payment, or the source of the funding.

Personal views, political opinions, unsponsored journalistic content or communications such as announcing candidates or encouraging participation will be excluded from the scope of this legislation.

"Citizens will be able to easily spot political advertising online and who stands behind it", lead MEP Sandro Gozi (Renew Europe) said after the agreement was reached.

The new rules also ban third countries from sponsoring EU political advertising in the three months before elections or referendums.

"The new rules will make it harder for foreign actors to spread disinformation and interfere in our free and democratic processes," Gozi said.

The EU co-legislators also agreed on further restrictions on the use of personal data. They banned political advertising based on profiling using sensitive data such as political views, religion or sexual orientation.

To increase transparency, an EU-wide repository will be set up to store all online political advertising two years after the rules come into force.

In case of repeated infringements, the text provides for the possibility of imposing periodic penalties of up to six percent of the annual revenue or turnover of the ad provider.

But before the rules come into force, some questions need to be answered, according to organisations such as the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe), which fears that vague language could make harmonised implementation difficult.

"It is crucial to provide sufficient clarity in order for political advertising publishers to implement the EU's new ad rules in a proper way, and without harming freedom of expression in electoral processes," CCIA Europe's senior policy manager, Claudia Canelles Quaroni warned.

The technical details of the new regulation will be discussed in the coming weeks to finalise the agreement. Both institutions will then have to formally adopt the agreement.

Once the regulation enters into force, the rules will apply 18 months later [likely spring 2025] — except for cross-border political advertising, which will apply in time for the 2024 EU elections.

Job insecurity 'undermines' voting and political participation

Job insecurity affect workers' perceptions of fairness, well-being, trust, sense of social exclusion or political participation, finds a new report. "They are less likely to vote in elections and less likely to participate in demonstrations — an indicator of disengagement."


Coming-of-age — what do young want from the 2024 EP election?

Young people's turnout in the 2019 European elections was the lowest of all age groups. Among the reasons: lack of youth representation among MEPs, logistical reasons, and a gap between what they care about and what's on offer.

Brexit vote manipulated, says data whistleblower

Christopher Wylie told British MPs that the campaign behind getting the UK to leave the EU had used dubious methods to sway voters. He said Canadian firm Aggregate IQ was subcontracted through Cambridge Analytica to target people.

Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies

Disruption at the Polish-Ukrainian border by disaffected Polish truckers is escalating, potentially affecting delivery of military aid to Ukraine. A Polish request to reintroduce permits for Ukrainian drivers has been described as "a shot to the head" during war.


Tusk's difficult in-tray on Poland's judicial independence

What is obvious is that PiS put in place a set of interlocking safeguards for itself which, even after their political defeat in Poland, will render it very difficult for the new government to restore the rule of law.


Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Latest News

  1. How Moldova is trying to control tuberculosis
  2. Many problems to solve in Dubai — honesty about them is good
  3. Sudanese fleeing violence find no haven in Egypt or EU
  4. How should EU reform the humanitarian aid system?
  5. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  6. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  7. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  8. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us