Stop EU subsidies to European political parties

17 November 2016

Stop EU subsidies to European political parties

It was announced today that one of the European political parties, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE), which includes UKIP, has been guilty of misuse of EU subsidies. “It’s well-known that subsidies to European political parties and foundations, which are distrusted annually by the European Parliament, cannot be used by national parties,” SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains. ”ADDE is at fault to the tune of no less than €173,000. As rapporteur for the EP budgetary accounts it’s struck me how hazy things are when it comes to the budget for subsidies. The only solution to the problem as far as I can see is for the EP simply to stop the subsidies and for European political parties and foundations to be financed instead from contributions from their members, the national political parties. Otherwise we’ll keep having this kind of mess.”

In his report, which will appear early next year, De Jong will look in detail into the subsidies issue. “It doesn’t seem to me that all the facts have been put on the table,” he says. “I monitor the European Parliament that in turn monitors the books of the European political parties and foundations. That’s always done by the Bureau of the EP, but in practice the Bureau always follows the Secretary-General’s recommendations and little attention is paid to the supporting documents. That can quickly lead to abuses. Furthermore, most of the MEPs in the Bureau are themselves affiliated to European political parties, so that it can be difficult for them to judge other such parties objectively for fear that their own party will be subject to criticism.”

The role of European political parties is not of the same importance to all political families and they should not be confused with the political groups in the EP themselves, which are financed separately. “But very few citizens in Europe know about the existence of European political parties,” says De Jong. “They function principally as fora in which national political parties discuss each other’s standpoints and attempt to find common ground. It’s not so much the interests of the EP or the public, but those of the national political parties which are involved in this. So they should be the ones picking up the tab. You can see from UKIP’s abuse of the funds, where money was spent on national campaigns, that even for members of these European parties national activities are of much more importance than is the European coordination. If the parties themselves cover the costs, the European parties will automatically be more economical with their money.”

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