The Czech Presidency presented a compromise text on the Regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising. This text poses risks to democracy and fundamental rights by:
- defining the free expression of political ideas and civic engagement as overlapping with political advertising, therefore imposing disproportionate obligations on simple civic participation;
- establishing a sanctions regime that applies to sponsors of political advertisements on unclear grounds and leaving to the Member States the task of laying down the rules on sanctions, potentially discouraging civil society from using advertisement and restricting civic space;
- delaying to 2026 necessary measures to ensure the integrity of electoral processes in the EU, such as the establishment of ad repositories for all online political advertisements and further restrictions to the processing of personal data in political advertising.
This is why we and other 33 CSOs are addressing a letter to all EU Ministers for European Affairs to provide our recommendations for a text that protects democracy and fundamental rights. The Regulation text must ensure:
- A clear scope for political advertising: this Regulation must acknowledge the critical importance of civic speech for democracy and clearly distinguish it from political advertising, always defining advertising as a service;
- A minimum, instead of maximum, harmonised sanctions regime that only targets service providers would ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions while also preserving freedom of expression and the civic space;
- Ambitious measures to be implemented as soon as possible, including the establishment of ad repositories for all online political advertisements and restrictions on the processing of personal data in political advertising.