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Europe will regulate the funding of political parties after 2017

26 March 2014 / 19:03:08  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Shortly before the elections for members of the next European Parliament its current members will vote on a regulation for the parties that will participate in it. The aim of the changes is to regulate the legal status of European parties and especially their funding.

The document states that 85% of the budget of the parties will continue to be provided from the budget of the European Union (EU) and only 15% will come from donations from private persons and legal entities. Moreover, no donation may exceed the sum of 18,000 euro, an amount that is higher compared to the current one. In parallel, the document allows for the transfer of unused funds from the previous year to the next.

The regulation was presented in Athens by Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the European People's Party and leader of New Democracy MEPs Marietta Giannakou. She stressed that the changes will improve the transparency on party funding and provide for financial and administrative fines and penalties in the case of violations by the parties. In order for a party to obtain funding, it must have at least one representative in the European Parliament.

The regulation is an important step, especially in view of how the political parties in Greece are funded. The issue of the funds of New Democracy and PASOK and especially of its obligations to banks due to the loans obtained has become a major part of the election debate. The liberal Drassi party even submitted a video in which its leader Theodoros Skylakakis explains that the parties are unable to pay the high amounts and their payment will again burden the citizens of Greece.

"To Potami" movement of Stavros Theodorakis that has caused a stir on the political stage described in details the cost of its first campaign in Crete.

According to Marietta Giannakou, the regulation will introduce changes in the legislation of European parties. In order for a party to be recognized as European, it will have to be headquartered in one of the EU member states and this fact has to be explicitly stated in its statue. In addition, the party or its members will have to be represented in at least seven member states by MEPs, national MPs or in local parliaments and other bodies with legislative functions or if the party has managed to collect at least 3% of the votes of the latest elections for MEPs. At the same time, their programmes should be based on the fundamental human rights and values ​​of the EU, as described in Article 2 of the agreement.

An independent body will see to the proper functioning of the parties and will forward the identified cases of violations to the Committee of Wise Men, which will be set up for this purpose. It in turn will investigate the charge to the party and issue an opinion. It will not be binding for the European Court, which is the competent authority to decide whether a party is to be removed or not.

The regulation will come into force on 1 January 2017, two years before the next European elections. "During these years, the parties will have enough time to change their statutes, decide where their headquarters will be as well as all other issues. We might make some corrections and additions to the regulations as well," said Marietta Giannakou.

She said the changes would bring the parties closer to Europeans who today are overwhelmed by strong Euro scepticism. "Even now, shortly before the elections, not only Greece but also other member states are almost exclusively discussing internal matters during the election campaign and nobody is talking about Europe. We very easily forget that the freedom of movement, the infrastructure and the reality that surround us have been achieved thanks to our membership in the European Union."

She added that she supports a single EU government and the final separation of the powers of individual countries from those of the Union. "The developments in Ukraine show that even war is something that we must not accept as an irretrievable past. We should abandon the narrow national and often nationalistic policy and understand that, without union, the European countries are very weak compared to the big players."

Marietta Giannakou criticized the Greek parties that base their political existence on anti-European attitudes. "They and the others which intend to blackmail Europe in order to achieve their goals, act in a criminal manner."

In conclusion, she said that, despite the difficulties, the European economy will recover and the centre-right to which the founders of the European Union belonged will play a key role in this process.

Tags: PoliticsEuropean partiesFundingEuropean ParliamentMarietta Giannakou
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