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Brussels, 18 December 2007

Strengthening European Democracy, political dialogue and voter participation in elections to the European Parliament

The Presidents of the European Parliament and of the European Council signed today a regulation supporting the development of European political foundations and widening the scope of activities of European political parties. Less than six months after the Commission adopted its proposal, Parliament and Council have agreed to the revised regulation which creates new opportunities for strengthening informed debate on current and future European issues.

Welcoming the adoption and signature of the regulation, Vice-President of the Commission responsible for Institutional affairs and communication strategy, Margot Wallström said "this new regulation will strengthen communication, dialogue and active involvement of the citizens. This is crucial for the Union's ability to achieve its objectives and deliver the right policies. European political foundations will play an important role in involving citizens in a permanent, genuine and informed political dialogue. Commenting on the new rules on campaigning by European political parties, Vice President Wallström added that "the possibility of European parties to engage in the campaign for the European elections will help bridge the gap between politics at national and European level. It will bring European issues to the fore and make clear to citizens that their political choice matters.”

The regulation is one of the concrete follow-up measures to the Commission’s "Plan D" which illustrated that there was clear demand and opportunity for measures to strengthen and expand political dialogue. The adoption of the regulation and its entry into force before the end of this year will allow for the new provisions to be up and running well before the elections to the European Parliament in June 2009 during which it will be a major objective to increase voter turn-out.

Note for editors

The regulation amends the existing Regulation (EC) 2004/2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding, adopted in 2003. It is based on Article 191 of the EC Treaty, which recognises that political parties at European level are important as factor of integration and contribute to forming European awareness and to expressing the will of the citizens of the Union. Simultaneously Council adopted another regulation dealing more specifically with financial provisions applicable to European political parties.

A total of ten political parties at European level, representing the whole spectrum of political views, receive funding via the Regulation, which is administered by the European Parliament. The budget for the purposes of the political parties at European level was fixed at EUR 10.6 million for 2008. All of these ten European political parties have recently set up foundations at European level under a pilot project financed by the European Commission. Now that the new rules are in place, EUR 5 million will be available from the European Parliament’s budget for funding the wide range of activities of these political foundations in 2008.

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