Cheat sheet on European political parties
Does Europe have political parties?
The European Union has political parties. The first European political parties – or “political parties at European level” – emerged ahead of the first election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage in 1979. European political parties were formally recognised in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht and, in 2003, were legally defined and granted public funding. In 2014, they were granted a legal status.
What are European political parties?
European political parties are political parties at European level. Regulation 1141/2014 defines a European party as a "structured cooperation between [national] political parties and/or citizens which pursues political objectives and is registered with the Authority for European political parties and foundations". In practice, European parties have few individual members and are instead "parties of national political parties". By contrast with European parliamentary groups, they operate outside of the European Parliament.
How many European political parties are there?
There are currently ten European political parties. European parties, as defined in EU law, must be registered with the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (APPF); these parties are eligible for European public funding. Other political movements, such as the European Pirate Party or Volt Europa, exist but are not registered with the APPF, and therefore do not qualify as European political parties.
What do European political parties do?
Article 10.4 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states that "Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union." European political parties influence the decision-making process of the European Parliament and of the European Council, and are increasingly present in the makeup of the European Commission's college of commissioners.
How is the European political party system structured?
With ten parties, the European political party system resembles that of many continental European countries, including major centre-right and centre-left parties (EPP and PES), centrist parties (ALDE and EDP), a far-left party (EL), far-right and nationalist parties (ECPM, ECR, and ID), a green party (EGP), and a regionalist party (EFA). Following a period of expansion peaking with 16 parties in 2016, the European party system has been stable with ten parties since 2018.
What are the largest European political parties?
The European People's Party (EPP) and the Party of the European Socialists (PES) are the largest European political parties. They have the largest number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and, consequently, receive the largest amounts of European public funding. However, ALDE has the largest number of individual members and receives the most private donations.
What are European political foundations?
European political foundations, defined in Regulation 1141/2014, are non-profit entities affiliated with a European party and registered with the Authority, which support the objectives of their European political party. They contribute to the debate on European public policy issues, including by organising seminars, trainings, conferences and studies, and serve as a framework for national political foundations.
What are European parliamentary groups?
European parliamentary groups (or political groups of the European Parliament) are officially-recognised groups of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathering by ideology. Unlike European political parties, the work of parliamentary groups is limited to work inside the European Parliament. There are currently seven political groups in the European Parliament. Some groups are directly linked to a European political party, while others gather members of several European parties.
Does the EU fund political parties?
The European Union funds European political parties — or “political parties at European level” — but not national parties. The modalities of this funding are included in Regulation 1141/2014 and funding comes from the Budget of the European Parliament (Section 1, Title 4). In 2023, €46 million were allocated for the funding of European parties. European political foundations and European parliamentary groups also receive funding from the budget of the European Parliament.
How are European political parties funded?
European political parties are funded using public and private funds. European parties with at least one Member of the European Parliament (MEP) can apply for European public funding, which comprises a lump sum and a sum based on parties' number of MEPs. European parties also receive financial and non-financial contributions from member parties and individual members, as well as donations from non-members. European public funding usually accounts for 85-90% of European parties' funding.
What is the largest source of funding for European political parties?
The largest source of funding for European political parties is European public funding. Between 85% and 90% of the funding of European political parties comes from European public funding. The remaining amount comes from private sources. However, most of those "private sources" are contributions by national member parties, who, in turn, raise a majority of their funding from national public funding.
How much public funding do European parties receive?
European parties qualifying for European public funding are entitled to a lump sum (shared equally among parties) and to a sum proportional to their number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). In 2023, the EPP, the largest European party, was entitled to €12.5 million; the ECPM, the smallest European party by number of MEPs, was entitled to €739,000. The amounts actually received by European parties can be lower (depending on their expenses and private funding), but not higher than these entitlements.
What can and cannot be paid from European public funding?
European political parties can use their European public funding for expenditure directly linked to the party’s objectives (known as "reimbursable expenditure"). This includes:
- meetings and representation costs,
- costs of publications,
- administrative, personnel and travel costs, and
- costs of campaign in European elections.
However, European public funding cannot be used for "non-reimbursable expenditure", including campaign costs for referenda and elections (except European elections), the direct or indirect funding of national parties, elections, or candidates, or for debt-related charges.
What is the Authority for European Political Parties?
The Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations (APPF) was created by the European Parliament and the European Council in Regulation 1141/2014. Its role is to register, control and, if relevant, impose sanctions on European political parties and European political foundations. Its current Director is Mr Pascal Schonard.