Five political groups have written to Martin Schulz, the Parliament's president, asking him to request advice from the Parliament's legal service as to whether the European Alliance for Freedom and the European Alliance of National Movements are in compliance with the Union's founding principles, as outlined in the Parliament's rules of procedure. Rule 210 defines these as “the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law”.
Opponents maintain that the two alliances – which include far-right parties such as the British National Party, France's Front National and Hungary's Jobbik – are xenophobic and hence should no longer receive grants from the Parliament's fund for European parties. Last year, the fund was worth €18.9 million, with an additional €12m set aside for party foundations.
The attempt to halt funding for the two alliances comes ahead of a decision next month by the Parliament's bureau – Schulz and the vice-presidents – on which political parties and foundations will receive Parliament funding in 2013.
Last February, the bureau agreed for the first time to fund the EANM, with €289,266, saying that there were “no indications” that the alliance would violate basic democratic principles.
On 14 January, the leaders of the groups of the European People's Party, the Socialists and Democrats, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, the Greens and the European United Left wrote to Schulz to press their case. The five groups are now collecting the signatures of at least 180 MEPs, as required under rule 210, and are planning to submit the formal request to the bureau before its next meeting, in Strasbourg on 4 February.
Hannes Swoboda, leader of the group of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats in the Parliament, said that his group did not seek to ban any party. “But parties that oppose the existence of the EU and that repeatedly violate EU principles with xenophobic, racist and hateful statements should not be funded with European taxpayers' money.”
In September, the European Commission proposed new rules that would limit EU funding to European parties and foundations that “observe the values on which the EU is founded”, specifically including “the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.