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Gozi: European democracy flounders without functioning political parties, movements

Sandro Gozi

A democracy cannot function without functioning political parties and movements, says European Parliamentarian Sandro Gozi at today’s plenary debate on updating the rules for European political parties and foundations.

The Secretary General of the European Democratic Party, Gozi pressed the need for a European democracy that cannot be limited to 27 separate political spaces. He argued that the democratic system in Europe must be based on “genuine European political parties”, such as the EDP, and that it must be built up in a “transnational political space”. Gozi pointed out that European political parties must become “real parties and be able to engage in real politics.”

In brief remarks during the parliamentary debate on the report Statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations produced in the parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO), Gozi addressed proposed rule changes to construct European parties in his short address to boost party credibility and political responsibility. Those include a call for European political parties, such as EDP, to be granted the right to part in national referenda when it affects the EU project. Commenting on challenges for European political parties, he noted: “It is absurd, for example, that a European party cannot take part in a debate in a national referendum which concerns the future of the Union, such as Brexit. He also stated a need for further budgetary autonomy and “impose more transparency.” This also links to the demands of citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Gozi relayed in a tweet shortly after his address: “The citizens of the #COFEU have asked for it: we are doing it.”

Thanking the co-rapporteurs and the Commission for their work on the report, the objectives contained in it form part of a broader strategy. He outlined that “Europeans must be able to vote directly for European parties, through transnational lists, in order to strengthen their democratic legitimacy.” Relatedly he called for Europe to fight disinformation and foreign interference, with new rules on political advertising, to protect our democracies.

The role of political parties: Rising, helping European political system

According to a study from European Parliamentary Research Service released in April 2022, the think tank of the democratically elected body concludes there exists a rising role for European political parties and serve a role as “important coordinators in the European political system.” The role of the European political parties, it notes, often under-estimated in the past, has grown significantly over the years. The EPRS identifies in the report a set of coordination activities terms as ‘vertical’, ‘horizontal’ and ‘diagonal’. This study also observes a growing 'politicisation' of the European Council and the “increased coordination role which European political parties appear to play in the context of the European Council.”

Time is ticking: Reforms needed well before 2024 EU parliament elections

As the five-year parliamentary term ends in two years, Gozi sees a pressing need to make needed changes before the next elections. He concluded: “We must move quickly because swift reforms made during the run-up to the 2024 European elections can augment the citizens’ power of choice within a new democratic space: more efficient, more transparent and, above all, more European.”