Richard North, 14/07/2012  
 

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While we are considering the best ways of improving our parliamentary representation, news reaches us that the EU commission is close to launching its next attempt to undermine it, by formally recognising EU-level political parties.

To qualify as a "European party", it must be represented in at least a quarter of member states, by MEPs, MPs or regional assemblies, and must have taken part in EU parliament elections.

To promote this concept, the commission will propose shortly after the summer legal status for these parties. This will also mean changes to the funding rules to create incentives for such parties, and to penalise national groupings.

The plan is that the changes should be in place well before the 2014 euro elections, allowing European in addition to national parties to campaign in the elections, and to solicit donations for that purpose.

Pan-European parties have always been an ambition for the integrationalists. From the very first, MEPs were encouraged to sit in political rather than national groupings, and this practice has remained to this day. However, election campaigns have remained robustly national, often fought on domestic rather than European issues.

By promoting EU-level parties, the commission hopes to change all that – but the effect will also be to marginalise national independence groups such as UKIP, which find it difficult to forge cross-border alliances. In time, strictly national parties in the EU parliament will lose their funding, leaving them unable to function.

Once more, therefore, we see the direction of travel – more integration and more "Europe". Already, too much power has slipped from Westminster to Brussels and Strasbourg, and this can only make it worse.

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