HC Deb 19 December 2000 vol 360 cc127-8W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are for the European Union to regulate(a) pan-European political parties and (b) national political parties; how the regulations will be justiciable; if it is the Government's policy that such regulation should be subject to qualified majority voting; and if he will make a statement. [141476]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

[holding answer 11 December 2000]: The InterGovernmental Conference (IGC) at Nice agreed that Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community shall be amended so as to require the Council to lay down regulations governing political parties at European level, and in particular the rules regarding their funding. Such regulations will be subject to qualified majority voting under Article 251 of the Treaty. The IGC in addition, issued a declaration reaffirming that the provisions of Article 191 do not imply any transfer of competence to the European Community and do not affect the application of the relevant national constitutional rules. The declaration further stated that the funding for political parties at European level provided out of the Community budget may not be used to fund, either directly or indirectly, political parties at national level.

This Treaty amendment will ensure transparency in the status of, and funding arrangements for, federations of political parties operating at European level. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the regulation of national political parties, including controls on their funding am expenditure, properly remains a matter for member states.