The European Commission has proposed this Thursday review the financing of political parties and improve electoral transparency in the European Union in order to protect democratic integrity and electoral processes in the member states.
“With this package we are taking unprecedented steps, we are tackling problems and we are shedding light. We are giving people more tools to understand who is trying to influence your opinion and how. In the end, democracy is about free choice, “defended the vice president of Securities, Vera Jourova, during the presentation of the measures.
Czech politics have given as an example the assault on the United States Capitol on January 6 or the reports on the operation of Facebook. “This package is a reaction to those episodes and the loopholes identified in our system, “he explained.
Faced with the legal limbo on the financing of political formations, Brussels intends to update the 2014 statute of parties to increase transparency regarding donations and advertising.
In this sense, donations that exceed 3,000 euros will go through auditing processes to clarify their origin and more power will be given to the Authority for European Political Parties, a body dependent on the European Parliament that controls the registration and activity of formations, which will analyze those payments that may be suspicious and will have a new sanctioning system.
Brussels entrusts the Authority with publishing open party information and reporting on donations and payments to political formations ahead of the European elections of 2024.
To avoid the risk of foreign interference, payments from party members outside the EU will be limited to 10 percent of total contributions. These members must fulfill the condition of respecting European values, which should serve as a safeguard, says the Brussels proposal.
Put digital content in order
In an environment where politics is played more and more in the digital framework, to the European Commission you are concerned that political propaganda on the Internet is camouflaged in other types of content and therefore wants to increase transparency to guarantee an open debate, free from misinformation and manipulation.
Brussels seeks to clarify which organizations are behind the political content and publicize the amount of money invested in advertising campaigns, as well as the sources of funding and the link between the content and the political event on which the advertising revolves, such as elections or referendums.
On the amplification of this content through social networks, Brussels will prohibit techniques that use sensitive personal information such as ethnic origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. As Jourova has defended, the Community Executive will apply a policy of “explain or” contain “since” freedom of expression is not the freedom to reach the public. “
Thus, these techniques will be allowed only with the express consent of users and for the first time digital companies will have to provide information on how it addresses people and social groups. In the event that it does not comply with the transparency conditions, such political advertising may not be published.
What’s more, Brussels will ask the Member States to establish “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” sanctions. for those who break the rules on transparency in the context of political advertising.
2024 European elections
Looking ahead to the next European elections in 2024, the community executive wants to increase participation and, specifically, it proposes facilitating voting for displaced people within the EU.
Brussels proposes amendments to the electoral regulations to increase information on electoral rights, harmonize the processes for registering voters or candidates and use the language of those displaced in third countries.
This package of measures aimed at protecting electoral processes in the EU must be ratified by the Twenty-seven and the European Parliament. To ensure that the rules are already in use for the 2024 elections, Brussels suggests that the new rules come into effect at least in the spring of 2023, a year before the polls.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.