EU to crack down on abuses in fi­nanc­ing of European par­ties

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

■ Vanessa Gera The European Union is ready­ing re­forms to crack down on abuses in the fi­nanc­ing of European po­lit­i­cal par­ties seek­ing elec­tion to the European Par­lia­ment, one of the bloc’s lead­ing of­fi­cials said on Friday.

Frans Tim­mer­mans, vice pres­i­dent of the European Com­mis­sion, said the new rules would close loop­holes that have in some cases led to the abuse of European tax­payer money.

“We be­lieve that with these tar­geted changes we can en­sure a more demo­cratic and trans­par­ent po­lit­i­cal land­scape,” Tim­mer­mans said at a news con­fer­ence in Brus­sels.

The plan is part of a broader demo­cratic drive by the EU at a time many Euro­peans com­plain about Brus­sels be­ing too de­tached from cit­i­zens.

Tim­mer­mans quipped that he knows all too well about that per­cep­tion. His old­est son, he said, of­ten ad­dresses him as an “un­elected face­less bu­reau­crat” over their morn­ing cof­fee at home.

Tim­mer­mans said cur­rent rules are “prone to abuse,” with sev­eral cases of dif­fer­ent mem­bers of a sin­gle na­tional party reg­is­ter­ing more than one European party. In some cases a sin­gle per­son has also spon­sored the regis­tra­tion of more than one party.

“These are not al­ways gen­uine po­lit­i­cal par­ties with com­mon goals, projects and de­bates. Some ap­pear to be lit­tle more than fronts to ex­tract money from the European tax­payer. This abuse must end, and quickly,” Tim­mer­mans said.

He re­fused, how­ever, to cite spe­cific ex­am­ples of abuse, say­ing he was not per­mit­ted legally to com­ment on on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Un­der the pro­posed changes, in­di­vid­u­als will no longer be al­lowed to reg­is­ter a party.

He said the cur­rent sys­tem of fund­ing, which dis­trib­utes funds equally to all par­ties in Par­lia­ment no mat­ter their size, will be changed to a more pro­por­tion­ate sys­tem grant­ing more to big­ger par­ties and less to the smaller ones, “bet­ter re­flect­ing the wishes of the elec­torate”.

Those who com­mit fraud in the fu­ture will also have to pay back the money they re­ceived, Tim­mer­mans said.

The changes must still be ap­proved by the European Par­lia­ment and mem­ber states. The Com­mis­sion said it ex­pects the changes to pass and be in force be­fore the 2019 elec­tions to the European Par­lia­ment.

We be­lieve that with these tar­geted changes we can en­sure a more demo­cratic and trans­par­ent po­lit­i­cal land­scape

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