European political parties 

What is a European political party?

A European political party is an organisation following a political programme. This party is composed of national parties and/or individuals as members, represented in several Member States and is registered with the Authority for European political parties and European political foundations (‘Authority’). As mentioned in the Treaties, "political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union”.

How is a European political party financed?

The funding took the form of an operating grant until financial year 2017. From 2018, the funding takes the form of a contribution. The rules for this form of funding are specified in Title XI of the Financial Regulation. It can cover up to 90% of the reimbursable expenditure of a party, while the rest should be covered by own resources such as membership fees and donations.

Funds available for parties are budgeted on the budget line 402 of the European Parliament’s budget.

What can and what cannot be paid from the contribution from the EU budget?

The contribution can be used to meet the expenditure directly linked to the party’s statutory objectives, that is the so-called reimbursable expenditure such as:

  • meetings and representation costs
  • costs of publications,
  • administrative, personnel and travel costs,
  • costs of campaign in European elections.

The contribution cannot be used, among others, to meet non-reimbursable expenditure such as:

  • campaign costs for referenda and elections (except for European elections),
  • direct or indirect funding of national parties, election candidates
  • debts service charges.

Who sets the rules of funding?

The rules of funding are laid down by a regulation adopted by the Council and the Parliament, pursuant to Article 10 paragraph 4 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 224 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The implementing procedures are adopted by the Bureau of the European Parliament.

Which rules apply? (from financial year 2019)

What conditions must be met in order to receive funding?

In order to receive a contribution from the Parliament, a party must satisfy certain conditions:

  • the party must be registered by the Authority,
  • it must be represented in the European Parliament by at least 1 Member of the European Parliament,
  • it must be audited by an external auditor mandated by the European Parliament,
  • it must not be subject of sanctions imposed by the Authority.

In order to be registered by the Authority, the party must comply with the registration conditions:

  • it must have its seat in a Member State as indicated in its statutes;
  • its member parties must be represented in at least one quarter of the Member States, members of the European Parliament, of national parliaments, of regional parliaments or of regional assemblies, or it or its member parties must have received, in at least one quarter of the Member States, at least three per cent of the votes cast in each of those Member States at the most recent elections to the European Parliament;
  • its member parties are not members of another European political party;
  • it must observe, in particular in its programme and in its activities, the values on which the Union is founded, as expressed in Article 2 TEU, namely respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities;
  • it or its members must have participated in elections to the European Parliament, or have expressed publicly the intention to participate in the next elections to the European Parliament; and
  • it must not pursue profit goals.

How does the funding procedure work in practice?

You can download here the brief report on the state of play of the funding procedure.

Any party meeting the above-mentioned conditions may apply for funding for a given financial year, by sending to the Parliament by 30 September of the preceding financial year its application and an estimated budget.

Once the applications are evaluated and approved, the funds available in the Parliament’s budget are distributed among these parties according to a set scale:

  • 10% are distributed in equal shares,
  • 90% are distributed in proportion to the number of the elected Members of the European Parliament being members of the party.

This constitutes a provisional contribution amount, which is paid at the beginning of each year (pre-financing payment). The provisional contribution amount must not exceed the amount applied for in the funding application and neither 90% of the reimbursable expenditure budgeted in the estimated budget.

The final contribution amount is established after approval of annual reports of the parties by the Bureau of the European Parliament. The final contribution amount must not exceed the provisional contribution amount and 90% of the reimbursable costs actually incurred.

How much do the parties receive from the EU budget?

Where is the financial data reported?

The parties must declare all revenue and expenditure in their annual reports. Such annual report consists mainly of:

  • audit report including financial statements
  • financial statement based on the structure of the estimated budget,
  • detail of accounts as regards revenue, costs, assets and liabilities,
  • list of donations
  • activity report

The parties’ audit reports and donations (until 2017) can be consulted here