- While European political parties and European political foundations are free to cooperate with parties or organisations by means of ancillary forms of association (e.g., observers, partners, associates, affiliates), a "member" pursuant to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 as interpreted in compliance with case-law requires a genuine membership link with the European political party or foundation. This becomes relevant in particular in the context of
- Applications for registration as a European political party: only "members" can be claimed for the purpose of representation according to Article 3(1)(b) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014;
- Own resources: only genuine "members" can pay contributions in accordance with Article 20 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, whereas payments from other partners are subject to the provisions governing donations pursuant to Article 20 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014.
- A genuine membership link exists if member parties or organisations
- have a full range of rights and obligations in internal governance of the European political party or foundation concerned, including in particular voting/participation/access to documents, and
- an appropriate membership fee is regularly paid. In the absence of the latter, evidence is required that the member party or organisation has genuinely and demonstrably participated in recent activities of the European political party or foundation.
- In order to ascertain genuine membership regarding European political parties in the context of registration, the Authority may also verify whether there is a manifest inconsistency between the political programme of the applicant for registration as a European political party and the political programme of any of its member parties.
Separation between European political party and its affiliated European political foundation
- According to Article 3(3) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, a separation between the respective day-to-day managements, governing structures and financial accounts of each European political party and the affiliated European political foundation needs to be ensured.
- With respect to the respective governing structures, this means in particular that both organisations' governing bodies must remain not only formally distinct, but also structurally able to take governance decisions independently from one another in practice.
- The factors to be assessed in this respect include decision-making procedures contained in both organisations' statutes or implementing provisions, in particular as regards the weighing of the office-holder's voting rights in the governing bodies of both organisations and any executive powers vested directly in that office-holder.
- Consequently, it should be excluded that the person in question may impose on one of the two organisations, of his own motion and without having to seek a majority in a governing body of that organisation, a decision taken by or on behalf of the respective other organisation. The concrete deputising competences vested in the office envisaged for the person may therefore be of additional relevance.
- With respect to the respective day-to-day managements, a complete identity of staff is not permitted. In case of partial overlap, the Authority will scrutinise whether a sufficient level of operational autonomy of both entities is nonetheless ensured.
Safeguards against foreign interference
- In accordance with Article 10(4) of the Treaty on European Union as well as Articles 2(1), 2(4), 3(1)(b) and 3(2)(e) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, certain distinctions are to be drawn between EU and non-EU citizens or entities in their relations with European political parties or European political foundations. Apart from the consequences for contributions and donations, caution is warranted concerning the extent of the participation of non-EU citizens or entities in the governance structures of European political parties and foundations.
- In particular, it must be ensured that persons who hold no EU citizenship or non-EU entities cannot, individually or collectively,
- impose a course of action against, or
- block, a majority of the voting EU citizens or members in the governing bodies of a European political party or European political foundation.