UKIP to gain £1.5 million in European grant
Categories: Latest News
Thursday December 18 2014
The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph all draw attention to BBC Newsnight’s revelation that the UK Independence Party has secured control of EU funds to the sum of £1.5 million as a result of forming a new pan-European party of which it is the largest member.
Documents seen by Newsnight show that UKIP has secured funds by registering to become part of a new party – the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) – with 21 of the 27 registered members being UKIP MEPs. The party will be liable for up to £1 million in grant support.
An accompanying foundation, the Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe, which is entitled to a grant of £580,000, is expected to support the work of the ADDE giving the party funds totalling £1.5 million.
Although the money is normally set aside for parties that promote European integration, the European Parliament could announce its approval of UKIP’s application this week. The money is expected to be available from April next year.
BBC News further notes that according to EU rules, parties are required “to respect the principles on which the European Union is founded” such as liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.
In 2012, the European Commission introduced new guidelines, in order to deter far right parties from utilising European privileges to advance their anti-immigrant rhetoric. According to the rules which require parties to form legal entities in order to qualify for the grants, parties would need to “fulfil certain criteria and respect the values on which the EU is founded, namely “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.
The taking of EU funds from a party that has a vehemently anti-European stance has not been without controversy within the party with Gerard Batten, an MEP in London, claiming that UKIP members had not been consulted about the decision. Other members drew attention to the leadership’s disregard for the outcome of an internal debate about accepting funding in which the majority of members voted against.
The revelation of UKIP’s newfound funding is interesting considering that records published by the Electoral Commission show that the party outspent Labour and the Liberal Democrats during the European election campaign. While the Conservative Party spent £2,980,815, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats spent £1,027,339 and £1,580,575 respectively, UKIP spent £2,956,737.
The funds put at the disposal of UKIP will certainly raise concerns given the anti-Muslim views expressed by some members and the putative links to other far right organisations which have engaged in explicitly anti-Muslim campaigning.