Thursday, 24 June 2010

Funding for Europarties and their foundations 2011: Misleading calls for proposals

Europarties and their political foundations are going to receive 28.8 million euros in subsidies in 2011 from the European Parliament (and EU taxpayers).

Even if the established political parties at European level, represented in strength in the European Parliament, are insiders who know the applicable rules, it is disconcerting to read the calls for proposals.

First of all, the announcements refer to a defunct Treaty.

Second, they to refer to a Bureau Decision of 29 March 2004, replaced by a later Decision, which does not acknowledge the fact that it is an amending Decision. Thus, both the Decision and the calls for proposals are misleading.

Third, it would have added a nice touch, if the calls for proposals had mentioned that Regulation No 2004/2003 applies as amended.

Given this sad state of affairs, I am not sure that I have got things right, but here is an effort to offer correct and updated information, which should have been given by the European Parliament, especially when this is one area of EU law where the EP is in pole position.



Calls for proposals


For 2011 the European Parliament is going to award an estimated EUR 17,400,000 in operating grants to political parties at European level, colloquially Europarties. The call for proposals has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union:



Call for proposals IX-2011/01 — ‘Grants to political parties at European level’; OJEU 24.6.2010 C 164/12


The EP will award an estimated EUR 11,400,000 to the political foundations of the political parties at European level for 2011. Further details regarding the Eurofoundations are found in:




Call for proposals IX-2011/02 — ‘Grants to political foundations at European level’; OJEU 24.6.2010 C 164/17


In both cases 85 per cent of the subsidies will be distributed in proportion to the number of MEPs of parties eligible for these European level grants.

The closing date for applications is 1 November 2010.



Embarrasing Treaty miss


It is somewhat embarrassing that the European Parliament – at the centre of EU level democratic life – shows such lack of attention to detail that the very first sentence of both announcements refers to the defunct Treaty:



Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community says that the political parties at European level are an important factor for integration within the Union.


Copy-pasting is wonderful, but there is always the risk of errors.


Let us try to give guidance to the potential applicants and other interested parties.

After the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, Article 10 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) deals with the democratic life of the union. The political parties at European level (Europarties) are mentioned in the fourth paragraph (consolidated version, OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83):



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.



The legal base concerning political parties at European level and funding for them is provided by Article 224 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):


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.



Amended Regulation No 2004/2003


The calls for proposals mention Regulation No 2004/2003, which has been amended. It would have added a nice touch to mention the amendment, so here is a link to the consolidated version of 27 December 2007:




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



Europarty and Eurofoundation


The crucial bar to eligibility for Europarties is found in Article 3(1)(b) of Regulation No 2004/2003:


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;




Misleading EP Bureau Decision



The calls for proposals refer to the Decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 29 March 2004 laying down the procedures for implementing Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003, published OJEU 12.6.2004 C 155/1.


However, while misleadingly keeping the name unchanged, the European Parliament has published a new and amended decision, at least in 2008:



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; OJEU 3.10.2008 C 252/1.


The Decision does not even mention that it replaced or amended the preceding Decision, so there is no guarantee that this is the final word on the subject. The amendments can only be inferred by comparing the contents.

Roughly, the later Decision incorporates the changes caused by the financing of Eurofoundations.



Comment

Given the state of affairs, I cannot be sure that my searches have been able to locate the applicable rules, but these examples suffice to show the need for improvement by the European Parliament.




Ralf Grahn