European Campaign Action Plan

European Campaign Action Plan ("E-CAP")

Article 21 of the Regulation applies only to European political parties and not to European political foundations.

The prohibition of directly or indirectly funding other political parties or candidates according to Article 22 of the Regulation remains applicable alongside Article 21 of the Regulation. The Authority recalls the criteria for assessing compliance with Article 22 as set out above.

At the same time, Article 21 of the Regulation encourages European political parties to conduct their own European elections campaigns, which must remain in line with Union values, and which are complementary to but distinct from the campaigns of their member parties.

This also applies if the lead candidate of a European political party is at the same time candidate in the elections to the European Parliament in a given EU Member State. It follows that European political parties are entitled to contribute financially to campaigns in the context of the elections to the European Parliament, including if a European Political Party's lead candidate is simultaneously on an electoral list of a Member State, provided they comply with Article 22(1) of the Regulation as further specified above.

In light thereof, the Authority recalls the five guiding principles for the campaigns of European political parties in the context of European elections (as developed together with the Directorate-General for Finance of the European Parliament in 2018):
  • Scope - transnational (i.e. include several Member States),
  • Content - predominant focus on European topics,
  • Ownership - responsibility of the European political party,
  • Authorship - visibility of the European political party and
  • Compatibility with national law.
In order to facilitate the practical implementation of these guiding principles and to frontload compliance management, the Authority developed the European Campaign Action Plan ("E-CAP") tool that assists European political parties in planning their campaigns in light of the applicable rules and principles. Important compliance risk mitigators include for example the participation in activities of a lead candidate ("Spitzenkandidat/-in") and the distinct visibility of the European political party.

While exchanges of information with national authorities may take place with regards to European campaign activities, assessments by national authorities in relation to national parties or candidates, e.g. whereby co-financing of joint activities by European political parties might be considered as revenue of the corresponding parties or candidates under national political parties financing law, are not prejudging the Authority's assessment pursuant to Article 22(1) of the Regulation. The Authority is in contact with Member States as appropriate in order to facilitate harmonious application of the Regulation and of national law as the two complementary levels of the regulatory framework.

Collaborative campaigning of European political parties

From the perspective of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, collaborative European campaigning involving different European political parties is not banned per se, but it must not amalgamate funding, nor the identities and decision-making processes, of the various European political parties involved. More concretely, the following limitations apply to collaborative campaigning of European political parties:

The funding of activities in this context would be analysed under Article 22(1) thereof.

The Authority will therefore, as for joint activities with parties at national level, proceed to assess whether direct or indirect funding was provided by one European political party to another. Indirect funding is assessed by reference to the following criteria, which are further explained above:
  • Consistent visibility of each of the European political parties involved
  • Level of ownership on the activity by each of the European political parties involved
  • Co-financing share must be in realistic correlation to the overall involvement of each European political parties involved
European electoral campaigns within the meaning of Article 21(1) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 as a form of participation in the European elections pursuant to Article 3(1)(d) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 are conducted by European political parties, not by cooperation platforms that conceal or override them. This means also that the governing bodies of either European political party cannot bind themselves to be directed, for campaign strategy purposes or campaign activity implementation, by the governing bodies of the respective other European political party or by decision-making structures outside of either European political party. Statutory decision-making procedures must remain separate, and there can be no general delegation of (campaign) decision-making from one party to the other or to an outside platform.

Consequently, the European Campaign Action Plan ("E-CAP") guidance of the Authority (see above) and the verification of participation at European elections continue to apply separately, and must demonstrate sufficient decision-making autonomy for each of the European political parties involved in collaborative campaigning.

This information is without prejudice to the assessment by the Authorising Officer of the European Parliament in its remit.

Influencers as campaigning tool

Having recourse to 'influencers' is not as such a prohibited campaigning tool from the perspective of the Regulation. The Authority nonetheless would like to draw attention to the general principle that outsourcing activities of European political parties must not circumvent the rules applicable to European political parties themselves. More particularly, the conduct of 'influencers' or other service providers acting within the framework of their contractual relations with a European political party is attributable to the European political party itself.

This means in particular that the European political party should draw the 'influencers' attention to:
  • The requirement to comply throughout the campaign with the values of the Union and applicable, including national, rules (see E-CAP letter of 25 May 2023, as published above). This means in particular that national medial law and - until the new Regulation on political advertisement enters into force - national rules on political advertisement are to be observed.

  • The requirement to abstain from personal data protection rules infringements throughout the campaign, including in light of Article 10a of the Regulation. This means in particular that deep fakes or other forms of stolen personal data must not be displayed or referred to.

  • Where relevant, the prohibitions of funding according to Article 22(1) of the Regulation and risk reduction principles for joint activities apply (see E-CAP letter, and general guidance, as published above). This means in particular that contractors can only be funded by a European political party for 'influencing' activity if and to the extent this does not amount to indirect funding of another party, in particular a national party.