Brussels, 16 March 2022
On Wednesday, MEPs exchanged views with the author of a new Parliament study on the proposed new rules for the statute and funding of European political parties and foundations.
During the presentation and the exchange of views, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs heard from Dr Edoardo Bressanelli, Associate Professor of Political Science, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Pisa, Italy). The study analyses the Commission’s legislative proposal in juxtaposition to the Parliament’s evaluation report on the existing rules. Its main conclusion is that the proposal strengthens European political parties and foundations “mainly as transnational party alliances, rather than as political actors expressing the will of EU citizens”.
Dr Bresanelli supported the idea of Parliament improving the proposal with a view to increase public awareness around European political parties. He suggested maximising the involvement of citizens in party processes, while incentivising a gender-balanced representation through funding. He also underscored the importance of Europeanising national parties. He pointed out that the new rules need to address a shortcoming of the current ones, namely in relation to party compliance with European values: although European parties are obliged to conform, there are no such rules for their constituent national parties. He argued in favour of reassessing funding rules to avoid that European political parties are Brussels-oriented, due to receiving 90% of their budget from the EU. Finally, he warned that third-country party membership should be treated with caution due to the risk of external interference, especially through donations.
MEPs asked questions and shared opinions on a range of topics, with several focusing on the need to take into account Parliament’s upcoming report on revising EU election rules, which is expected to include provisions on transnational lists. European party funding during election and non-election periods, gender equality, and internal party democracy were also among other topics raised by multiple speakers. Most were positive towards enhancing citizen participation through European party membership, while some underlined the complexity of discussing party compliance with European values.
You can watch the hearing on demand on Parliament’s Multimedia Centre.
In taking stock of the implementation of the current Regulation, Parliament proposed modifications to allow European political parties and foundations to reach their full potential through transparency (in particular in relation to political advertisement and donations), pluralism, efficiency, and a truly European discourse. It also argued in favour of strengthening the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations to ensure compliance with EU values.
The Commission’s proposal is part of the European Democracy Action Plan and seeks to facilitate European political parties’ interactions with their national member parties and across borders, among other objectives.