Saturday, 23 May 2009

European elections: Role of Europarties

Ahead of the European Parliament elections, we recap some basics and signal new research on the Europarties, officially political parties at European level, meant to form a European awareness and to express the political will of the EU citizens.


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Current Treaty


Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) lays down the basic principles governing political parties at European level.

According to the first subparagraph the Europarties are seen as a factor for EU integration.

Regulations concerning (the status of) European parties and their funding can be issued by co-decision (OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/132):


Article 191 TEC

Political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union.

The Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251, shall lay down the regulations governing political parties at European level and in particular the rules regarding their funding.


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty

The Treaty of Lisbon is not in force (yet), but in many instances it represents the updated view of the member states (and EU institutions) on how the European Union should function.

The basic provisions on representative democracy and the Europarties have been renumbered in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty.

Article 10 of the amended Treaty on European Union, in Title II Provisions on democratic principles (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/20) sets out the framework with the political parties mentioned in paragraph 4:


Article 10 TEU

1. The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy.

2. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.

Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments, themselves democratically accountable either to their national Parliaments, or to their citizens.

3. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.

4. Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.



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Article 224 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) took over the substance of the second subparagraph of Article 191 TEC, with the minor amendments (OJEU page 149):


Article 224 TFEU
(ex Article 191, second subparagraph, TEC)

The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, by means of regulations, shall lay down the regulations governing political parties at European level referred to in Article 10(4) of the Treaty on European Union and in particular the rules regarding their funding.


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Secondary legislation


Statute for a European political party

There are existing statutes for European companies (SE) and European co-operatives as well as proposals for European associations and European mutuals, but there is no enactment on truly European political parties.


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Funding for Europarties


It took a long time before the European Parliament and the Council were able to agree on European level political parties. The result was 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 (OJEU 15.11.2003 L 297/1), since amended by Regulation No 1524/2007 (OJEU 27.12.2007 L 343/5).

The consolidated version (of 27 December 2007) of Regulation 2004/2003 is available here:





Even if no true category of European political party is created, the Regulation lays down certain criteria for the parties eligible for funding from the European Union.


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Implementing decision



The Decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 29 March 2004 laying down the procedures for implementing Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding, has been published as amended by the bureau Decision 1 February 2006 in OJEU 28.6.2006 C 150/9.



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Expenditure

Under the European Parliament in the European Union budget for 2009 there are the following appropriations:

Article 402 contains EUR 10.858 million for European political parties and Article 403 allows contributions to their European political foundations worth 7.0 million.


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New study


The French think tank Notre Europe has actively studied and organised ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections.

One of the results is the study on the political parties at European level, by Francisco Roa Bastos Des « partis politiques au niveau européen » ? Etat des lieux à la veille des élections européennes de juin 2009. (Published 20 May 2009)


The study 25 page paper encapsulates the stages of development of the Europarties. It analyses their main characteristics on an integration continuum and exposes their weaknesses. Additionally, it ssees the need for further study on how these parties function in reality.


Ralf Grahn