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MaltaToday 17 November 2021 MIDWEEK

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15 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 17 NOVEMBER 2021 NEWS These articles are part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. These articles reflect only the authors' view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. Metsola confirms bid for EPP candidate for European Parliament president MEPs say donations of over €3,000 to parties should be scrutinsed THE Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola has confirmed her bid for European Par- liament presidency. "This is an internal process, but I can confirm that I will be a candidate to be the EPP Group's nominee for President of the European Parliament," she told MaltaToday. In November 2020, Roberta Met- sola was elected to the office of First Vice-President of the European Parlia- ment, becoming the first Maltese per- son to hold one of the top jobs within the European institution. This makes her the highest-ranking Maltese ever within the European Par- liament. In a brief comment on Monday, Met- sola said she will be speaking to her col- leagues about how they see the role of the Parliament in the second half of the legislature, and how they want the in- stitution to evolve. "I want to help get people in our Member States to believe in Europe - and the Parliament can sup- port MEPs as we bring European de- cision-making closer to people in dif- ferent villages, towns and cities across Europe," she said. That role could well be entrusted to Metsola if she emerges as a strong nom- inee by the EPP group, and finds con- sensus among liberals, greens and the socialists themselves. She would also be the first woman president of the Euro- pean Parliament since 1999. "The challenges Europe is facing, but also the opportunities, require the Par- liament to have a strong clear voice and I am ready to do my part as we work to- gether to re-capture the enthusiasm for our project," the MEP said. Austrian MEP Othmar Karas has also submitted his nomination for the post. Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola with EP president David Sassoli SEBASTIAN VASSALLO MEPS have voted in a report calling for new rules by 2027 for European political parties and their foundations, in a bid to increase transparency and bind financing to their respect for EU values. The report, voted in with 428 in favour and 92 against, with 49 abstentions, calls for funding for political parties to be condi- tional on respect for EU values, and with increases monitoring and sanctions as well fund re- covery mechanisms. MEPs called for the strength- ening of the authority for Euro- pean Political Parties and Eu- ropean Political Foundations, to scrutinise more intensely aggregate donations of over €3,000, especially where sudden donation spikes are observed. The MEPs also called for do- nations from the same donor to both European and nation- al parties to be published, and ensure donations exceeding the transparency limit are not re-routed to different legal en- tities in a bid to beat the rules. "Our report is a timely one, just as European citizens en- gage in the largest democratic reflection this continent has ever known, the Conference on the Future of Europe," said co-rapporteur Charles Goe- rens (Renew). "It will be up to these European political par- ties, which our report seeks to strengthen, to make real the democratic aspirations that our citizens will express during the Conference." Alongside these measures the Parliament wants to support the further development of a European public sphere and recommended: assessing votes- based funding schemes, further harmonisation between Euro- pean and national rules, lifting the ban on financing referen- dum campaigns on issues relat- ed to the EU Treaties, making it easier for existing transnation- al political parties to register as European political parties, addressing the flawed design of the rules that limit individ- ual membership of European parties, and allowing members from non-EU European coun- tries (including former EU members) to be affiliated to a party or foundation. Labour head of delegation Al- fred Sant, who voted in favour of the report, said he agreed "only with caution" with a pro- posal to amend rules to clarify that respect for EU fundamen- tal values should apply to both European political parties and their member parties. "Such a proviso has to be in- terpreted with great care since it could be applied in a partisan manner by prevailing politi- cal majorities on contentious issues like migration, human rights, abortion, secession from national entities, and religious beliefs and customs," Sant said. Sant also found reservations on the point to make financ- ing rules of European political parties and their foundations, compatible with pan-European constituency campaigns at the European elections. "I do not agree with the introduction of such campaigns and anyway believe that this matter falls outside the scope of this reso- lution." Sant however described the proposals as creating a stronger and clearer framework for par- ties' status and funding, as well as their foundations. "One can- not but endorse statements re- questing that European political parties must observe democrat- ic and transparent procedures when selecting party leaders, candidates for elections, as well as when adopting internal rules and political programmes." The European Commission is now set to draft its own report and present it by the 23 No- vember. Co-rapporteur Rainer Wieland (EPP) expressed sat- isfaction that the most impor- tant issues had been addressed but wished Parliament had sent a more ambitious signal to the Commission for a vote-based funding scheme. "I believe it would be more democratic as it would turn the focus of the European political parties more towards turnout at European elections and avoid the 'closed-shop agreements' that take place after these elec- tions."

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