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Corbett: Reforms on political groups will protect diversity of debate

9 July 2008, 2:00pm

Labour MEP Richard Corbett today welcomed the adoption of his proposal to change the rules on the right for groups of MEPs to obtain extra finance for their political activities, making it more difficult for them to do so.


Although the change is, said Corbett, "far from radical", it would make it harder for extreme-right politicians to form a group in the European Parliament and obtain extra taxpayers' money for extremist causes.
The main change increases the threshold required to form a political group in the European Parliament from 20 to 25 MEPs from seven EU countries and will come into force following next year's European elections.
Richard said:
"This report is not about attacking small Groups, as it will still be possible to create a group with far fewer members than in most national parliaments. On the contrary, the new rule is actually beneficial for small groups, who will now not be automatically disbanded if they fall just below the threshold".

"Nor is it about stamping out euroscepticism, which is well represented in the European Parliament. If this report does have a target, then it is far-right extremists, who, if they gain a mere 2.5% of the seats under the current rule (a far lower threshold than in most national parliaments), could form a Group in the next parliament and gain significant staff and financial resources worth over €1 million."
Commenting on the fact that the majority of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs opposed the changes, Richard said:
"It is astonishing that the Tories and Liberal Democrats are happy for taxpayers' money to go to neo-Nazis"

Notes to Editors

1 - Richard Corbett is the Labour Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs and EU reform in the European Parliament

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