Thursday

17th Aug 2017

New rules to boost profile of European political parties

The EU Commission on Wednesday (12 September) unveiled plans designed to give a legal boost to European political parties as they gear up for the 2014 elections, expected to be a watershed date for the politicisation of European debate.

The draft statute would give the political parties a legal footing - until now many registered as a Belgian not-for-profit organisation - and loosen funding rules.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Campaigning for the European election last time around (Photo: European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari)

Single donations of up to €25,000 a year would be allowed while the EU money given to the parties would no longer be in the form of a hand-tying grant, allowing parties more freedom on how to spend the cash.

"We have very often a real disconnect between political parties in the capitals and the European political parties here in Strasbourg," Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told MEPs, explaining the need for the changes.

There are currently 13 European political parties with a budget of €31m between them, but they have made little headway in fostering EU-wide debate since the rules were first established in 2003.

"Truly transnational European political parties and foundations are key to articulating the voices of citizens at European level, and generating Europe-wide public debates," said institutional affairs commissioner Maros Sefcovic.

Aside from trying to create the elusive European public space, supporters of the initiative hope it will raise the turnout in the European election.

Voter numbers have decreased each year since elections began, even as the legislating powers of MEPs have grown exponentially over the same period.

The new rules - which come with spending and donor transparency obligations - chime with the intention of the major parties for the first time to field candidates for European commission president.

With the president traditionally chosen after a behind-closed-doors huddle by EU leaders, this is meant to make the process more democratic as well as high-profile.

"There won't be a direct vote for the presidential candidate but as that candidate will be spear-heading the campaign and they will be putting forward the main policies of each European party, that means they will at least have some democratic legitimacy," Kostas Sasmatzoglou, European People's Party (EPP) spokesperson, told this website.

But many details - not least how the parties themselves will choose their candidates - have to be worked out.

"In some countries you can have TV ads and in others not. Will we, for example, have co-branding of the Fine Gael (Irish centre-right party) logo and the EPP logo? The campaign will be two tier - national level and European where the candidate will be flying around to the different member states, doing press, doing appearances with national MEPs and so on."

Having candidates openly running for the job as commission president has meant speculation has started early about who could be the next president, although the post only comes up for grabs in mid 2014.

Der Spiegel recently ran an article suggesting that Polish centre-right leader Donald Tusk might be favoured by Berlin. Martin Schulz, the socialist head of the parliament, crops up as a potential name for the left. Meanwhile, Barroso himself is technically not barred from running for a third term.

"It's much too early for names," said one parliament official.

Pan-European parties statute to be taken to Court

The statute for European political parties, adopted today by the European Parliament, has been deemed discriminatory by the smaller political groups, as they risk not being entitled to funding.

European political parties line up for EU funds

European political parties will receive money from the EU coffers this year from an annual budget totalling 6.5 million euro, under new rules adopted by EU states last year.

Agenda

Socialists open political season this WEEK

The EU's political season ahead of the 2014 elections will kick off this week with a Socialist Party congress, setting the ground for a centre-left candidate to run for the head of the European Commission.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  2. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  3. Russian power most feared in Europe
  4. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  5. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  6. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  7. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  8. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides