The European Commission proposed on Thursday to review the funding of political parties and improve electoral transparency in the European Union in order to protect democratic integrity and the electoral processes in the member states.
“With this package, we are taking unprecedented steps, addressing problems and shedding light. We are giving people more tools to understand who is trying to influence their opinions and how. Ultimately, democracy is about them free choice, “defended the vice-president. de Valores, Vera Jourova, presenting the measures.
Czech politicians have cited the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol or the reports on the operation of Facebook as examples. “This package is a response to these episodes and the legal loopholes found in our system,” he said.
In view of the legal limbo in the funding of political formations, Brussels intends to update the party statute from 2014 in order to increase transparency with regard to donations and advertising.
In this sense, donations that exceed 3,000 euros will be subject to a screening process to clarify their origin and the Authority for European Political Parties, an authority dependent on the European Parliament that controls the registration and operation of formations, will be given more powers to analyze potentially suspicious payments and receive a new system of sanctions.
Brussels entrusts the authority with the publication of open information about the parties and the preparation of reports on donations and payments to political formations with a view to the European elections in 2024.
To avoid the risk of foreign interference, payments from party members outside the EU are limited to 10 percent of total contributions. These members must meet the condition of respecting European values, which should serve as protection, says the Brussels proposal.
In an environment in which politics is increasingly played out in a digital framework, the European Commission fears that political propaganda on the Internet is camouflaged in other content and therefore wants to increase transparency in order to ensure an open debate, free from misinformation and manipulation.
Brussels is trying to clarify which organizations are behind the political content and how much money is invested in advertising campaigns, as well as the sources of funding and the connection between the content and the political event the advertisement is about, such as B. Elections or referendums. .
When disseminating this content through social networks, Brussels will ban techniques that use sensitive personal data such as ethnic origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. As Jourova has defended, the community executive will employ a policy of “explain or contain” “since” freedom of expression is not freedom to reach the public. “
Thus, these techniques will only be allowed with the express consent of the user and digital companies will have to provide information about how to address people and social groups for the first time. In the event that it does not meet the transparency requirements, such political advertising may not be published.
In addition, Brussels will call on Member States to lay down “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” penalties for those who breach transparency rules in connection with political advertising.
With a view to the next European elections in 2024, the community executive wants to increase participation and proposes in particular to make it easier for displaced persons within the EU to vote.
Brussels is proposing changes to the electoral code in order to obtain more information on voting rights, to harmonize the procedures for registering voters or candidates and to use the language of displaced persons in third countries.
This package of measures to protect the electoral process in the EU has to be ratified by the 27 and the European Parliament. So that the rules apply to the 2024 elections, Brussels proposes that the new rules come into force at least in spring 2023, one year before the elections.