Libertas applies for European political party funds


LIBERTAS HAS applied to the European Parliament to get a portion of a €17 million funding scheme it provides to promote the "European nature of the European elections".

It has also set up a Brussels office, appointed a director to co-ordinate its European activities and is recruiting candidates across the EU to run in the European elections.

Libertas founder Declan Ganley said yesterday he wanted to raise €75 million to finance an election campaign that was a pan-European referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

"We don't want this anti-democratic formula for Europe that is the Lisbon Treaty. It doesn't make the citizen feel like Europe is their gig, or their thing," said Mr Ganley yesterday on a visit to Brussels to prepare the official launch of Libertas next month.

Mr Ganley confirmed Libertas had applied to the European Parliament for EU funding that is made available to European political parties and political foundations.

In 2009 about €17 million is available for European political parties and foundations that "enhance and promote the European nature of the elections to the European parliament".

European political parties can use this money to finance "campaigns conducted by the political parties at European level in the context of the European Parliament", although the money cannot be used to fund national candidates or parties, according to the rules.

Mr Ganley said Libertas's application for funds was filed earlier this month and was still under consideration by the parliament but he saw no reason for it to be rejected.

"People have had no complaints about the Yes campaign using taxpayers' money to support the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland," said Mr Ganley, who added that Libertas would bring a truly EU-wide debate to next year's European elections for the very first time.

Libertas needs to prove that it has garnered the support of elected politicians (national, regional or MEPs) in at least one quarter of the 27 member states to be eligible for funding, which is ultimately supplied by European taxpayers.

If its application is accepted by the bureau of the parliament it will get a slice of the €17 million along with the 10 existing European-established political parties and related foundations.

Mr Ganley said Libertas had attracted enough signatures of support from elected representatives to qualify for the funds. But he refused to name any of the elected representatives that had agreed to support Libertas's application for the EU funding.

The application for EU funds is likely to cause consternation among pro-Lisbon MEPs such as Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit who called for Mr Ganley's links to the US military to be investigated following the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum in Ireland.