PACE’s Political Affairs Committee has condemned attempts by states to “interfere improperly or illicitly in democratic decision-making processes” in other states by funding political parties or campaigns – and set out a road-map for cracking down on the practice.
Approving a report by Konstantin Kuhle (Germany, ALDE), the committee set out a series of measures to close “legal loopholes” on foreign funding of political parties by limiting or banning donations direct to politicians or candidates, “in-kind”, anonymous or cryptocurrency donations, loans, and money channeled via intermediaries.
The parliamentarians said foundations, associations, charities, religious groups and other non-profits or NGOs should also be covered by the regulations on political funding “whenever these organisations take part in electoral campaigns or finance political parties”. Such measures, however, should not be “misused” to impede the work of NGOs, they added.
Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge, addressing the committee, pointed out that transparency in political financing was “key to accountability and maintaining citizens’ trust in politics”. He highlighted the work of the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO in monitoring this issue, and urged further work to build on existing standards.
The report is due to be debated by the plenary Assembly in June.