According to media reports the pan-European Libertas party has filed an application for EU funding. We have been told that the party consists of a few politicians from member states of the European Union.
Leaving their pan-European credentials aside for the moment, the sketchy reports offer little on if Libertas really fulfils the criteria for funding as a political party at European level.
Nothing was found on the web pages of Libertas this evening.
Let us look at the criteria, as set out in the Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding.
The consolidated version Regulation 2004/2003 (of 27 December 2007) is available here:
The following criteria are mentioned:
For the purposes of this Regulation:
1. ‘political party’ means an association of citizens:
— which pursues political objectives, and
— which is either recognised by, or established in accordance with, the legal order of at least one Member State;
2. ‘alliance of political parties’ means structured cooperation between at least two political parties;
3. ‘political party at European level’ means a political party or an alliance of political parties which satisfies the conditions referred to in Article 3;
1. A political party at European level shall satisfy the following conditions:
(a) it must have legal personality in the Member State in which its seat is located;
(b) it must be represented, in at least one quarter of Member States, by Members of the European Parliament or in the national Parliaments or regional Parliaments or in the regional assemblies, or it must have received, in at least one quarter of the Member States, at least three per cent of the votes cast in each of those Member States at the most recent European Parliament elections;
(c) it must observe, in particular in its programme and in its activities, the principles on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law;
(d) it must have participated in elections to the European Parliament, or have expressed the intention to do so.
In short: Representation in a quarter of the EU member states (7) is enough and a coalition of political parties will do.
One of the party members or representatives mentioned publicly is Timo Soini, Chairman of the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset), a political party with five members of Parliament.
Interestingly enough, a few moment ago the web pages of the True Finns and the parliamentary group failed to mention that the party has become the national Libertas or even joined a coalition with Libertas. Not a word about an alliance on Chairman Soini’s blog.
In other words, if the True Finns have made a decision about Libertas, they have kept it secret.
This brings us back to Regulation 2004/2003 and the funding criteria. Can a party be said to be represented by elected politicians in a member state, if the national or coalition party’s allegiance is unknown where it operates?
A second possibility might be that Timo Soini MP is a member of Libertas EU directly. But shouldn’t he have told his less than integrationist supporters in Finland if he has joined a pan-European political party?
Possibly, everything will be sorted out, but Libertas’ application seems to deserve thorough vetting before approval.
I hope that all actors step up their communication efforts until the matter is crystal clear.