New transparency register boosts EU democratic scrutiny
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič joined European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Strasbourg on 16 April to sign an updated version of the transparency register managed jointly by the two institutions.
VP Šefcovic welcomed the adoption of the new register by Parliament, which includes a number of improvements designed to make the register stronger. "It will give the public more information about the interest groups and organisations which are active at EU level, thereby increasing transparency even further. It will give more incentives to organisations which are registered, and it will be tougher on those who don’t play according to the rules," he said.
He also stressed that the scope of the register had not been reduced as a result of the review, and that it remained the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. It contains information on more than 6,500 professional lobbyists working both in-house and for lobby firms, lawyers, regions, think-tanks, academia, NGOs, trade union and trade associations, among others.
VP Šefčovič added that the next phase would hopefully be to persuade the Council to join the joint initiative, to ensure even greater transparency in this area.
New statute for EU political parties
The last European Parliament plenary session before the European elections in May also saw the adoption of a new statute for European political parties, which although it came too late for this year's poll should ensure that future elections are fought more on pan-European issues.
The vote followed 18 months of intense negotiations, and means European political parties and their affiliated foundations will finally get European-level legal status. This will remove the most important obstacles they face when operating in and across Member States. In return, such organisations will have to meet high standards on internal governance, accountability, transparency, and respect for the values on which the Union is founded.
VP Šefčovič called the vote "a positive signal to the voters a few weeks before the European elections. I am convinced that the new Regulation is an important step towards consolidating European democracy."
The new statute will also set out the rules for the funding of European political parties, including strict reporting and control requirements, and there will be administrative sanctions in case of infringements. There will also be limits on the size of individual donations (€18,000/year) and a requirement to publish the names of donors contributing more than €3,000/year.