New rules to ensure proper use of public money when funding European political parties and foundations were informally agreed by the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee and the European Council on February 27.

Now it’s up to the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee to vote on the informal deal before it moves to the Parliament as a whole and to the Council of Ministers.

A delegation of MEPs and Council representatives agreed that individuals should no longer be able to create a European party – only national parties can do so. This is to avoid individual members of a national party participating in the formation of more than one European party in order to maximise access to public funds.

What is more, they agreed that the European Parliament should be able to recover amounts unduly paid and individuals guilty of fraud would become liable to pay back misspent funds. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office, yet to officially start, will be called on to investigate alleged abuses in the future.

Negotiators also agreed that national parties should display the logo and political manifesto of their affiliated European party on their websites as a condition to access funds. This is to be done by member parties at least 12 months before the funding applications are submitted.

“The institutions have worked together well to close loopholes which, until now, allowed a European Political Party to be created only for financial reasons,” said lead MEP Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE).  “Cross-party membership will not be possible anymore and funding will be linked more precisely to actual voting results at EU level, making European political parties more European and, as more logos will be published online, more visible at the national level.”

“We have adapted the current regulation to the latest developments and needs of European politics,” added MEP Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT). “By lowering the threshold for distribution of funds and focussing on visibility of national member parties, we have enhanced the democratic representation of European political parties and foundations, through financing which is truly proportionate to their presence in the EP.”