Just over four months before EU voters go to the polls, the European Parliament and European Council reached provisional agreement to tighten the rules on political party funding, according to the European Commission’s proposal.

The Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said the agreement is expected to bolster the bloc’s democratic institutions.

“Strong data protection rules are crucial to protecting the upcoming European elections. We expect European political parties to fully respect them so that Europeans can cast their vote being fully and fairly informed during the campaign,” said Jourová.

As part of a package of proposals tabled in 2018, the Commission has introduced financial penalties equal to 5% of the annual budget of a European party or political foundation if they violate the EU’s data protection rules as part of an attempt to influence the outcome of elections to the European Parliament.

In addition, any party found guilty of using these tactics would be ineligible to apply for funding from the general budget of the European Union in the year in which it was sanctioned.

The rules agreed will then be enforced by the Authority for European political parties and European political foundations and formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to guarantee its timely application ahead of the May European elections.