Hayer’s party funding: what is the purpose of Bardella’s fake news?

The French presidential majority has failed to persuade its European liberal allies to abandon private co-sponsorship, a practice that is minimal in its financing but instrumentalized by the far-right Rassemblement National in the European Elections campaign.

It’s the story of “fake news and a failure,” writes L’Opinion. The fake news is that Valerie Hayer’s campaign for the European elections is being financed by major American groups. The failure is that the presidential majority failed to prevent Jordan Bardella from brandishing this story like a trophy during the debate between the two heads of lists on BFMTV.

No, neither Microsoft nor Meta are financing Valerie Hayer’s campaign. Jordan Bardella just misses the point. However, the topic of private sponsors raises serious questions.

Has Bardella tried to distance himself from the links between RN party and a Russian bank?

It seems the head of the RN list tries to distance himself from the links between the RN and Vladimir Putin’s Russia after the party got credit from a Russian bank in 2016. Bardella’s response was a counter-attack on Valerie Hayer’s campaign’s financing. Jordan Bardella claims that the European party Alde (Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats), which in turn receives funding from large multinationals like Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook (Meta), finances his opponent’s party.

Valérie Hayer responds that she is not a member of Alde. She is a member of the Renew Europe group. It has not been possible to merge Alde and Renew Europe, as neither structure wants to give in to the other.

However, Jordan Bardella’s misinformation extends further: European parties cannot even finance national or referendum campaigns. European political parties can’t even fund training courses for national elected representatives. This, incidentally, severely limits European parties’ involvement in the European campaign. Even the Alde can’t nominate candidates for the European elections. This remains the responsibility of the member states, which set the funding rules.

Political parties are unable to finance campaigns

The regulatory framework for European parties is very strict. Ten European parties have met the conditions for access to European funds. The conditions are as follows: to be registered with the European authority (APPF), to have legal personality, to have its headquarters in a member state, to respect the fundamental European principles (defined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty), to take part in European elections, and to be represented (via its members) in a quarter of member states. Parties may not pursue profit-making aims or be members of another European political party.

European subsidies essentially fund their operations. They have introduced a ceiling: EU subsidies cannot surpass 90% of their budget. For the remaining 10%, they must rely on subscriptions or donations (up to a maximum of 18,000 euros). Since December 2023, parties have been required to notify the Authority for European Political Parties (and foundations) of all donations, a requirement that previously only applied to donations exceeding 12,000 euros. The APPF website regularly publishes donations. The APPF prohibits member states from providing assistance.

The Renew Europe campaign does not accept corporate funding

The European center parties divide into three entities: the Alde party, which encompasses the UDI in France; the European Democrats (EDP), which includes the MoDem; and Renaissance and affiliated parties. In January 2024, they signed a memorandum with a view to the European campaign. The parties undertook to organize joint campaign events, co-financed by each of the constituents. 

However, point 3 of the memorandum explicitly states that “all campaign activities will be financed from their own resources, without corporate funding.”.

Valérie Hayer is not an Alde member

The Institut Jacques Delors conducted a study in May 2023 that contained a wealth of information on European political parties. In fact, European parties have had great difficulty finding contributors and donations from individuals or companies.

Marine Le Pen is facing a trial over the use of European funds

Valérie Hayer could have retorted that, when it comes to funding, the RN has a date with the law. Marine Le Pen and her party’s leadership (26 other defendants) from the 2010s will go on trial on September 30 at the Paris Criminal Court. 

Between 2004 and 2016, they are suspected of having set up a system whereby the European Union paid the parliamentary assistants of MEPs who actually worked for the party. Marine Le Pen has already agreed to pay nearly 330,000 euros to the European Parliament for the undue remuneration of two parliamentary assistants.

Either Bardella was unaware of the falsity of his statement, or he intentionally employed the fake news to damage his main election rival’s reputation and distract from his own party’s issues—loyal loans from a bank associated with the Putin regime, and Marine Le Pen’s trial for misusing EU funds.

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