Mr Mark Zuckerberg
1 Hacker Way
United States of America
Dear Mr Zuckerberg,
Since 15 April 2019, Facebook has put in place new rules for political advertisement in all EU
Member States. Effectively, paid political content will only be allowed in the country where
the ad buyer is based in.
These rules create an unprecedented barrier for European political organisations and political
Under the new rules, European political parties, established under EU law, and based on
Article 10 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), cannot advertise in all EU Member
States anymore, but basically only in Belgium.
This is extremely worrying just five weeks before the elections to the European Parliament.
European political parties, by definition, have members and constituencies all across the EU.
There are also many citizens of EU Member States who live in another Member State, but still
can and want to vote at home. Political groups in the European Parliament – which are by
definition not based in one Member State – also cannot advertise their content outside of
Belgium anymore. Article 10(4) of the TEU clearly states that “Political parties at European
level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens
of the Union.” – not national awareness on the national level of national citizens.
The new rules also do not make the European Parliament elections more secure. While
preventing European political parties from advertising their ideas across the EU, big
influencers from in- and outside the European Union, who want to have an impact on the
European elections, can still pay agencies at the national level and continue their aggressive
advertisement everywhere in the Union.
The new rules of Facebook also do not comply with the European rules on the cross-border
provision of services. Our rules clearly state that a provider contracted by an EU political
actor cannot be restrained to provide its services in only one Member State. This is in line
with stable case law on single market freedoms the European Court of Justice has built over
the last 60 years.
With these rules, Facebook is de facto putting barriers in place that will harm the European
discourse around a European democracy. It brings us back to the times of nation-states vs
nation-states, which the EU was founded to overcome.
The new rules will have no negative effect on the forces spreading most of the disinformation
that are supported by third countries or foreign political entities. In essence by nationalizing
the ad-campaigns, Facebook is disadvantaging the communication of legitimate European
Facebook Vice-President for Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg stated in
Brussels in January 2019: "How can you be in favor of an open world and at the same time
not allow people on your platforms in a legitimate way to appeal to voters?" We expect that
Facebook stands by his words.
We expect Facebook to change its rules within a matter of days to be in compliance with EU
rules, in order to allow EU-level political parties and other entities to participate in the
European political discourse in the run-up to the European Parliament elections between May
23 to May 26, 2019. All European political parties that are registered with the Authority for
European Political Parties and European Political Foundations should immedately be allowed
to run Europe-wide advertisementson Facebook.
We will not accept being limited to national public spheres in a common Europe and we do
hope that you will work with us to effect the necessary changes.
Dara Murphy, Vice-President and Campaign Director of the European People’s Party
Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists
Jan Zahradil, President of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
Hans van Baalen, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Reinhard Bütikofer, Co-chair of the European Green Party
Monica Frassoni, Co-chair of the European Green Party
Gregor Gysi, President of the Party of European Left
Lorena Lopez de La Calle, President of the European Free Alliance