The Commission today welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on its proposals, following the 2017 State of the Union Address, to reform the rules on European Political Parties and Foundations. These changes will increase transparency, so people know what they are voting for in the European elections, improve democratic legitimacy with funding better reflecting the electorate's choices, and strengthen enforcement so that abuses of public money can be better tackled and funds reclaimed.
As President Jean-Claude Juncker stated in his State of the Union address on 13 September 2017 "Our Union needs a democratic leap forward. Too often Europe-wide elections have been reduced to nothing more than the sum of national campaigns. European democracy deserves better. We should be giving European parties the means to better organise themselves."
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said after today's vote: "This is an important reform and I am glad it is being completed so quickly. European political parties play a central and increasing role in creating a direct link between European citizens and the European political system. Citizens need to know who they are voting for when they cast their ballots in next year's European elections, so it is good that these changes will make the links between national and European parties clearer. They will also make sure that the public money given to parties better reflects the votes their candidates have won, and help us claw back any funds which are misused."
The revision of the Regulation on European Political Parties and Foundations will close loopholes which in the past led to the abuse of European taxpayers' money. In some cases individual members of the same national party sponsored the creation of different European parties. Moreover, the existing distribution method for EU funding for European political parties did not sufficiently reflect the results of the European elections. Finally, parties found it difficult to meet the requirements to get such funding.
The changes adopted will make a closer link between vote share and funding by increasing the percentage of the total funding pot which is allocated on the basis of the election results to 90%, from the current 85%. Under the current system, 15% of funding was shared between all parties, regardless of the number of voters they represent.
The amendments will also provide greater transparency for European citizens on the links between European and national parties, by requiring national parties to display clearly on their websites the logo and political programme of their European party. National parties are also encouraged to include information on the gender balance of the party's Members of the European Parliament.
Finally, to ensure taxpayers' money is better managed, the proposed reform will close loopholes that allowed parties to abuse the system by setting up multiple European parties which would each be eligible for extra funding.
The role of European Political Parties is set out in the Treaty on European Union, which states that "political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union". The Regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations, introduced in 2014, increases the visibility, recognition, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of European political parties and their affiliated political foundations.
Political parties and foundations satisfying a number of conditions are offered the opportunity to become European legal entities and access financial support. These conditions include representation in a sufficiently large number of EU Member States and respect, both in their programme and activities, for the values on which the EU is founded.
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