Improving the Council’s proposal for the reform of European parties

Ahead of trilogues between European institutions on the recast of the Regulation on European political parties, European Democracy Consulting provides the Council with amendments in line with its adopted partial general approach for specific issues of transparency and improvements that may have been overlooked in the Council’s initial appraisal. Read the report here and a brief presentation here.

On 25 November 2021, following the adoption by the European Parliament of an implementation report on Regulation 1141/2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations, the European Commission presented its proposal for a recast of this Regulation. On 22 March 2022, the Council adopted its partial general approach on the Commission’s proposal.

Over the past three years, European Democracy Consulting has carried out research and analysis work on the reform of European political parties, including via a report for a Member of the European Parliament, topical analyses on European party funding and transparency, and a detailed report published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) for the benefit of the European Commission and Parliament. European Democracy Consulting also published its own assessment of the European Commission’s recast proposal.

Based on this extensive track record, and in line with its stated purpose to strengthen European democracy, European Democracy Consulting reviewed the Council’s partial general approach and endeavoured to formulate additional legislative proposals for the Council’s consideration. These proposals concern issues that we believe may have been overlooked in the Council’s initial appraisal; they are in line with the Council’s position and fall within the perimeter of the Commission’s recast document.

Overall, European Democracy Consulting welcomes a number of changes to the Commission’s proposal made by the Council’s partial general approach. This includes restricting financial contributions to European political parties to their member parties having their seat within the European Union and reverting to a 10% co-financing rate for European political parties. Conversely, European Democracy Consulting regrets the Council’s decision to prevent European parties from financing referendum campaigns, and, in light of strong shortcomings in implementation, to remove from Article 4(1) the Commission’s specific requirements on the display of European parties’ logos on their member parties’ websites.

With this report, however, European Democracy Consulting does not seek to challenge the Council’s position, but instead to support its work in favour of increasing transparency on European parties and their activities, and of strengthening their regulation. Over the years, our work on European party transparency has allowed us to identify a number of shortcomings that may easily be remedied to through targeted technical and administrative reforms. Likewise, limited adjustments can help strengthen the overall regulating framework on European parties. We therefore share these proposals with the Council in the hope that they will be recognised, for upcoming discussions and negotiations, as concrete measures able to increase transparency on, and the regulation of, European political parties for the benefit of European citizens.

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