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Home arrow newsitems arrow CFE/EcoSoc+Digit.Panel/Day-1: EF raises Question of Citizens' Freedom to Change Agenda

CFE/EcoSoc+Digit.Panel/Day-1: EF raises Question of Citizens' Freedom to Change Agenda

Written by ACM
Friday, 17 September 2021

 

 cofoe_1st_panelday_1_plenary_eurofora_400

*Strasbourg/EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- Right from the very Beginning of the 1st Attempt in Europe's History to actively Associate Citizens in Shaping its Future, (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eppressheadtoefoncitizenspanels.html, etc), while Other Journalists repeated Queries about the Political Views' Fairness in the Selection of Participants by a Private Company of alleged Experts, (as some EU Politicians had Already done), instead, "Eurofora" Focused on a "Technical" but Crucial critical Question about Whether they Really had a Fair Possibility, in real Practice, to make notable Changes in the Scheduled Agenda of that unique process, and/or Add Key Input (i.e. f.ex. Backing certains Key Proposals, perhaps Neglected by some "Experts"), or not.

An Obvious Problem was the Fact that this First "Citizens' Panel", (out of 4 in Total), Focused on Economic and Social Issues, including Education, Culture and Sport, as well as Digitalisation, had a so "Tight" Draft Daily Programme, during 3 Crucial Days, (17-19/9/2021), that it appeared, a priori, Practicaly very Difficult, if not Impossible, for them, to Seriously Examine all key Facts, Notice eventual Ommissions or other Errors, Discuss, Revendicate, and Obtain any Important Change...

 

eu_conf_on_future_of_europe__timeline_ep__eurofora_400_01 

Indeed, f.ex., inter alia, the 1st and 3rd Days were Cut in a Half, (i.e. Only Afternoon or Morning, respectively), the 2nd (apparently the Most Serious Working Day) was Reduced for 1/3 by Social Events and various Invitations, Added to the Fact that the 1st Day (Friday) was practicaly consumed into Welcoming, Meeting, and Organisation matters, while almost All the Rest was Ostensibly Full of Partial or even Total Interventions by Various Other Actors : "Moderators", "Experts", "Facilitators", MEPs, etc, accompagnied Also by a numerous (and apparently Hard-Working) Secretariat or "NGOs" from Brussels, etc, so that the mainly InExperienced 200 Citizens, from Dispersed Origins, most of whom didn't even know where were located EU Parliament's basic Meeting Places inside a Huge Building, inevitably Risked to feel Lost amidst Only ...5, 10 or 15 Minutes' Time-Slots often assigned by the Draft Programme for Debating and Making Hard Choices even at some Thorny and Complicated Issues... A fotiori when Only "Plenary" Debates were Accessible to Journalists and the Public via EBS), while, on the Contrary, crucial "WorkShop" Meetings between Participant Citizens were kept Closed, (Opposite to what happens with MEPs' "Committee" Debates, at least Since "Eurofora" succesfuly Suggested an Internet Direct Links, when we had Met with then New EU Parliament's President Buzek, in the Past, (See: ..,, etc).

In Addition, as some among the Organizers reminded to "Eurofora", it's, also, a well known Fact that there had Not been a Full Unanimity, inside all EU Parts, for Trying to give a Say to Citizens, (Even if a Majority really Believed that EU should and could Associate Citizens in a Modern and more Democratic Decision-Making process, if it really Wanted a more Ingrated and Stronger Europe in the World : See, already, inter alia, f.ex., also from Strasourg's area Franco-Germann core Couple of Daul and Schaüble at the CoE, earlier, etc). - "But you Remember that, Already Shortly before that Virus, such a Project Risked to be pacticaly going towards a Dead End", an EU Parliament's staff membe Rihtfully Reminded to "Eurofora". So that it's Not Excluded a priori that Some might, perhaps, even, be Secretly Glad if Any such Modern EU Democracy potential Failed, by putting Spokes in EU's Wheels...

This was in Bright Contrast particularly with People apparently Motivated by a Real pro-European Aspiration, including, f.ex. a Collegue Journalist who came to Strasbourg by Air-Flight from Tallin, and/or a Young Lady, Citizen-Participant, who "Eurofora" shaw Working with a Computer, even Alone, until Late Evening, while Most Others were Eating at the Restaurant or Dispersed in various Social Events' Invitations, an Aged but Experienced "Expert" eager to Stimulate an Ambitious pro-European Ambiance, or Press Attaché Kyriakos Closides claiming that Participant-Citizens "did Not Quarell, among them, But, on the Contrary, strived to Find Common Ground for real European Solutions, (etc). Mylti-Active Head Press Attaché Sanne De Ryck, who strived to Help Press Contacts in general, while Admitting that Many Plenary Events were, in fact, "Experts"-driven, nevertheless, pointed at Citizens' "Workshops" and/or "Breaks", for Journalists' INTWs, particularly Later-on, (righfully : See ..., etc UPDATED).

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cofoe_1st_panel_day_1__press_briefing__distance_eurofora_400 

=> EU competent Officials' feeling on the above-mentioned "Eurofora"s Query, Today, appeared to be a somewhat "Balanced" one : Essentialy, they too felt that, Indeed, there was "a Challenge" here, since there was a Limited Time, but for Broad Issues, and an Equilibrium to Find between Input from the Web (i.e. the rest of 500 Millions of European People), Experts, etc, while Also Letting Participants Free to Reflect, Propose, etc., since they should have some Time to reach their own Conclusions, as part of this Process' added Value...

cofoe_1st_panel_day_1_ep_secretariats_off_the_record_reply_to_agg_question_eurofora_400 

(Meanwile, concerning at least the Fact that Participant Citizens are really Eager to Speak and Exchange with Each-Other around the CoFoE's Issues, including among themselves,  this became Immediately Obvious when, Earlier this 1st Day at the Plenary, the Organizers Allowed them to "Know Each Other" during ... Ten (10) Minutes, as an "Eurofora"'s relevant Photo clearly indicates)...

cofoe_1st_panelday_1_people_eager_to_meet_each_other_12_m_ebs__eurofora_400 

In consequence, they Claimed Both that, in order to be Politicaly Efficient, this Conference's Approach would strive to "Narrow-down" the Number and Scope of Various Questions raised here, and that at any case, the 200 or 800 Participant Citizens, as well as All Other EU's 500 Miliions Citizens, would have Opportunities to UpDate and/or Complete their Queries, (using Various Practical Astuces),  during the Rest of the Time Available, (particularly during the Next 2 Panels and/or Following "Interim Reports", due on October + November), until Before the Conference on Europe's Future concludes on Early 2022...

A Preference for "Narrowing down" Issues to Debate, was Also Backed by Brussels-based NGO "European Policy Center"'s envoy, Johannes Greubel, speaking to "Eurofora" Later-on, under Pretext that this would Provoke Sharper Reactions from Participants, in general.

However, there was Not Yet any Crystal-clear Answer to the Crucial, in real Practice, Question, whether the Next 2 Editions of the "Interim Reports" on the various "Proposals" made by EU Citizens at the Website Platform of the Conference for the Future of Europe during the Forthcoming few Months might be Entirely UpDated, i.e. Including Also several interesting Proposals that had Not Been Spoted yet, Nor Cited, or not even Made Earlier, as "Eurofora" suggested...

cofoe_1st_panel_day_1__eptranslation_in_24_languages_eurofora_400 

Indeed, to judge, f.ex., by the 1st "Interim Report" on the CoFoE, just Published on September 15, and due to cover the previous Period of April-August 2021 only, as EU Parliament's Chief Negociator, MEP Guy Verhofstadt, had announced on 14/9/2021, (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eppressheadtoefoncitizenspanels.html + ..., etc), in Fact, several Key, Originl Proposals made by Registered EU Citizens at the Official Website Platfotm of the Conference, were, Surprizingly, Not even Mentioned in that Report, while, on the Contary, a lot of Other, sometimes Less Relevant, Repetitive, Superficial, or even of Doubtful Elligibility, are uselessly occupying Many Pages of that "Report", giving a Missleading and Troncated Image of the Real Situation about EU Citizens' pertinent Proposals, so that it Risks to Push towards Errors, UnJustified Ommissions, Arbitrary Rejections, Loss of Rare Opportunities to Efficiently Settle Issues, Legitimate Frustrations, and a Stern Image of European People's Capacity to Imagine and Propose Interesting Solutions...

And such Curious Shortcomings are Obvious Even at the Notoriously Most Important and Popular segment of this Conference on Europe's Future : That which concerns European DEMOCRACY, as Verhofstadt observed !  Indeed, you can Find in that "1st Interim Report", a lot of clumsy Suggestions Favoring some "Lobbies" or Oligarchies, possibly More Dangerous than the Already Existing ones, (as several Observers pointed already out, at Critical Comments made there), or, for the Rest, Only a Repetitive Litany of Countless ...Remakes of the Notorious "Citizens' Initiative", in one way or another, Again and Again..., while, at the Same Time, some really New and Original Ideas, (Even if they might have been Welcomed by Heads of State/Government, EU Parliament's President, Top Key MEPs, etc) are Curiously 100% Ommitted, Hidden and Muzzled !

But, thus, a great Part or all the Good Work done by Honest, Active and Creative EU Parliament's and Other Staff, as well as several Fresh Ideas, sincere EU Aspirations, Useful Proposals, by Motivated European People, Risks to be Undermined and Lost, at an Obviously Crucial Juncture for possible and Necessary Developments able to Boost Europe's Present and foreseable Future, in a Hard World... All EU Citizens' Potential must be saveguarded and developed according to its real value, without any irresponsible abuse.

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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