Strasbourg Plenary 4-7 April: nuclear, immigration, economic governance
Give EU political parties common legal, fiscal status - Giannakou
European political groups do exist but they are simply umbrella organisations for national parties and don't have any direct contact with the electorate. MEPs on the Constitutional Affairs Committee want that to change. A first step to having EU political groups that represent European interests is a European statute giving them a common legal and fiscal status, says Marietta Giannakou, who is drafting Parliament's report on the rules and funding of European parties.
There are 13 European political parties, 10 of which receive funding from the EP. MEPs are calling for greater flexibility and transparency in funding. They want EU funding to rise to 90% from 85% and want the cap on donations to rise to €25,000 a year from €12,000, but also want penalties for infringements. Ms Giannakou explained more about the report.
How do you propose to move to genuine transnational "Europarties" competing in pan-European elections?
We are asking the Commission to create a specific statute for a European party. The EU has its own legal personality and we have the same goal for EU-level political parties. At the moment they are merely international NGOs, mostly registered in Belgium. This is unacceptable.
We have to distinguish between the creation of a European political party and its eligibility for funding. The statute will define rules on the recognition of EU-wide parties. In order to receive funding they must include at least one MEP.
We might have transnational lists in the future, but the report on electoral reform hasn't been voted on yet and the political groups have different positions on this particular issue.
Wouldn't the growing influence of EU-level parties mean that more decision-making shifts to Brussels, which would have an impact on democracy?
The statute will provide rules on internal party democracy and individual citizens could become members, in addition to national parties.
EU parties would be allowed to take part only in those referenda campaigns directly connected to European issues, for example on a change of treaty.
Isn't there a danger that we could end up with hundreds of EU-level parties?
There might be hundreds of new start-up parties, but in order to get funding they must have at least one MEP and member parties in the national or regional legislative assemblies of at least a quarter of member states (7 countries).
It's not easy to satisfy all these requirements. Currently we have 10 parties getting EP funding; I don't think there will be many more.
How will you ensure money is not wasted and is used transparently?
The funding will continue to be allocated by the EP; all the rules concerning control by the Court of Auditors and the other institutions are in place. I believe there won't be possibilities for corruption if the control authorities do their job well.
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