11th October 2017

EC: State of the Union 2017 - Democracy Package: Reform of Citizens' Initiative and Political Party funding

Increasing democratic legitimacy in the EU through stronger citizen participation is among the Ten Priorities of the Juncker Commission (Priority 10 - Democratic Change). To continue delivering on this commitment, the European Commission adopted two legislative proposals to revise the European Citizens' Initiative Regulation and the Regulation on European Political Parties and Foundations.

..To make it easier to organise a Citizens' Initiative, the Commission will work more closely with organisers to ensure the eligibility of their registration requests. We will also offer a free online data collection service for organisers, the possibility to use eID to support an Initiative, and translation of all Initiatives into all EU languages. To make it easier to support an initiative, the Commission will reduce the amount of data required; organisers will only need to work with two types of support form, compared to the 13 different models which currently exist because of different national rules. The Commission's proposal will also lower the age for supporting an initiative from 18 to 16, instantly opening the door to 10 million new potential supporters. To increase the impact of successful initiatives, the follow-up process will be improved to promote a meaningful debate before the Commission gives its response. Citizens will also be informed about the follow-up given to Initiatives they have signed, if they so choose.


...The proposed amendments in the area of European political parties funding aim to increase transparency, so people know who they are voting for, improve democratic legitimacy so funding will better reflect the European electorate, and strengthen enforcement so abuse can be tackled and funds reclaimed. These proposals should be adopted and in force before the European elections in 2019.

European political parties play a critical role in creating a direct link between the citizens and the European political system, enhancing the legitimacy of the European Union. We need European parties with a genuine European dimension and with the means to make a difference.

The proposed reform of the European Political Parties and Foundations addresses repeated demands from the European Parliament to close the loopholes that lead to abuse of European taxpayers' money. In some cases individual members of the same national party are sponsoring the creation of different European parties. Moreover, the existing distribution method for EU funding for European political parties is not sufficiently proportionate to the size of representation achieved in European elections. Finally, parties find it difficult to meet the co-financing requirement to get such finding.

The Commission's proposals will make a closer link between true representation and funding, by increasing the percentage of funding which is allocated based on the real vote share from 85% to 95%. Under the current system, 15% of funding is shared between all parties, regardless of the number of voters they represent.

The proposals will also provide greater transparency for European citizens on the links between European and national parties, by requiring national parties to display clearly on their websites the logo and political programme of the European party to which they are affiliated. The gender balance of the parties' MEPs will also be displayed.

Finally, to ensure taxpayers' money is better managed, the proposed reform will close loopholes that allow parties to abuse the system by setting up multiple European entities, each eligible for extra funding.

Next Steps: The two legislative proposals presented by the Commission in mid-September must now be adopted by the European Parliament and Council through the ordinary legislative process, in order to enter into force. The Commission counts on a swift and constructive debate so that these important changes in the democratic life of our Union can enter into force as soon as possible.



Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic