49 recommendations for the reform of European parties (edited)

Ahead of the European Commission’s drafting of legislative proposals to reform European political parties, European Democracy Consulting led the drafting of a report published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights aimed at strengthening European representative democracy. Read the report here, its addendum here, and an additional expanded report here.

Co-written with the Research Centre for the Study of Parties and Democracy (REPRESENT), the report formulates 40 recommendations in line with ODIHR’s mandate and based on the joint Guidelines on Political Party Regulation of the OSCE/ODIHR and of the Venice Commission. ((Joint Guidelines of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission on Political Party Regulation (2nd edition, 2020), CDL-AD(2020)032, available at https://www.legislationline.org/odihr-documents/page/guidelines and https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2020)032-e.)) The report is also available on ODIHR’s LegislationOnline platform.

Going beyond the Guidelines, an addendum to this report, by European Democracy Consulting and REPRESENT, adds another 9 recommendations and goes more in-depth for certain sections of the report.

Finally, an additional report by European Democracy Consulting and REPRESENT expands on the ODIHR document by integrating additional material prepared alongside the initial report. In particular, it adds an introductory section on considerations regarding European political parties, and, for each following topic of reform, descriptions of the current applicable rules and of their consequences on the structure and functioning of European parties.

List of recommendations

In the list of recommendations below, recommendations marked with a letter are supplementary recommendations from the addendum.

Definition, Registration and Membership

Recommendation 1.    Define European political parties as associations of individuals

Recommendation 2.    Lower the Member State registration requirement

Recommendation 3.    Request a minimum number of party members instead of a minimum number of votes

Recommendation 4.    Clarify the membership situation of MEPs

Governance and internal democracy

Recommendation 5.    Encourage a more participatory process of internal decision-making

Recommendation 5a.    Request the election of the top leadership by individual members

Recommendation 5b.    Request the election of lead electoral positions by individual members

Respect for EU values

Recommendation 6.    Improve the values compliance mechanism

Recommendation 7.    Ensuring judicial, and not political, oversight of the values compliance mechanism

Interplay of European and national political parties

Recommendation 8.    Allow European political parties to finance affiliated national parties and candidates

Recommendation 8a.   Give European parties a central role in European elections         

Recommendation 8b.   Limit the number of affiliated parties to one per Member State

Recommendation 8c.   Harmonise party names and logos across Europe

Level playing field for smaller/newer parties

Recommendation 9.    Remove the requirement for EP representation for public funding

Recommendation 10.    Reassess the amount of the lump sum

Recommendation 11.    Create special, time-limited rules for new parties to facilitate the emergence of newcomers

Recommendation 12.    Introduce an “electoral kit” for European elections

Recommendation 13.    Replace MEP-based funding with vote-based funding to reward electoral performance

Structure of the public funding regime

Recommendation 14.    Make the funding of the European party system independent from partisan pressure

Recommendation 15.    Review the amount of public funding available to European political parties and review the co-financing requirement

Recommendation 16.    Use amounts instead of percentages for the distribution of funding

Recommendation 17.    Introduce individual member-based funding to increase political participation

Recommendation 18.    Use a matching fund to strengthen private funding

Recommendation 19.    Use funding conditionality to support specific policy goals and values

Donations and contributions

Recommendation 20.    Rephrase the provision on ceilings for contributions from member parties

Recommendation 21.    Clarify the scope of donations and contributions

Recommendation 22.    Redefine categories of private funding

Recommendation 23.    Revise donations from legal persons

Recommendation 24.    Improve the regulation of loans

Administrative and accounting simplification

Recommendation 25.    Lighten administrative requirements on European parties

Recommendation 26.    End double accounting requirements and simplify and clarify requirements

Recommendation 27.    Review the notion of “reimbursable expenditure”

Recommendation 28.    Make the APPF the single monitoring entity for European political parties

Transparency of European political parties and the European party system

Recommendation 29.    Rephrase the “single website” requirement

Recommendation 30.    Clarify and expand the information to be published under Article 32

Recommendation 31.    Require information to be published in open and machine-readable formats

Recommendation 31a.   Require the graphic display of information

Recommendation 32.    Carry out a yearly review of the implementation of transparency requirements and visibility measures

Financial transparency by European political parties

Recommendation 33.    Provide a financial summary

Recommendation 34.    Improve the timing and modalities of financial reporting

Recommendation 35.    Improve electoral financial reporting

Recommendation 35a.   Strengthen the role of the treasurer as a “financial agent”

Visibility of parties for citizens

Recommendation 35b.   Revise the requirement for national parties to display the logo of their European political party

Recommendation 35c.   Increase the data on the visibility of European political parties

Role of the Authority for European political parties

Recommendation 36.    Include time limits for the publication of information by the APPF

Recommendation 37.    Entrust the APPF with a clear mission of public information

Recommendation 38.    Enhancing the oversight functions of the APPF

Recommendation 39.    Increase the budget of the APPF


Recommendation 40.    Strengthen the sanctions regime

Read the report here, the addendum here, and the additional expanded report here.

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