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Home arrow newsitems arrow New EU + CoE Leaders for Citizens participation in Public Decision-Making (as Eurofora Project)

New EU + CoE Leaders for Citizens participation in Public Decision-Making (as Eurofora Project)

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 27 November 2019

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- Both in EU Parliament and at the CoE, in Parallel but Synchronous Moves, New Leaders in the 2 European Organisations, Ursula Von Der Leyen for EU Commission's Presidency (2019-2024), and David Zalkaliani for the Georgian Chairmanship of CoE's Committee of Ministers (Nov. 2019 - May 2020), pointed Today in Strasbourg, at various levels, towards an overall Political Will to Boost Citizens' Participation in Public Decision-Making, at a notoriously Crucial Juncture for the Relations between Governing Bodies and People, throughout all Europe and well beyond in the World, Nowadays, (apparently indicating that an Historic Moment may have arrived now, Inciting Top EU/CoE Political Leaders to Join, at last, the Basics of "Eurofora"s co-Founder's Project, studied and developed during the last 25-30 Years : See relevant Time-table/main Events at: ..., etc)...

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- Placing her move under the Heading "People Care about having a Say on their Future", Von der Leyen, in her Speech for EU Parliament's Vote on the New EU Commission's Members, Started by Reminding the New Fact that, on May 2019, "the Turnout" in the Latest "European Elections was the Highest in a Quarter of Century. But, Democratic Participation does Not Stop on Election Day", she went on to Add for the foreseable Future.

=> "We (EU) will Mobilize Europe's Best Energies, from All Parts of the Union", and Not Only the "Institutions", but Also "from All Walks of Life", "to Engage in the Conference on the Future of Europe" (CFE), which "should be Inclusive", Both "for All Institutions", "and (EU) Citizens", she stressed.

- That's why, in Practice, "the EU Parliament should have a Leading Role", while, "from the EU Commission side, Dobravka Suica" -an Experiencd Member of this House", (as Former MEP from Croatia : I.e., by anOther "Coincidence", from the Same Country as CoE's New Secretary General, Marija Buric  : 2019-2024), "will work Closely with (MEPs) to make this a Success", Von Der Leyen announced.

In fact, Suica has the Duty to Prepare and Organise that CFE, in Cooperation With EU Parliament, where EU Commission's Representative will be her Bulgarian Collegue, Vera Jourova, and the Results will be Negotiated between EU Council, Parliament and Commission, by Maros Sefcovic from Slovakia, according to the Letters of Mission send by Von der Leyen to Each EU Commissioner, (i.e., practically Joining Together, even if on Various Capacities and Roles, the Commissioners for Democracy and Demography, for Values and Transparency, as well as for Inter-Institutional Relations and Perspectives, respectively).

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+ Almost at the Same Time, at Nearby CoE's PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, (47 Member Countries strong, including Russia, etc), also Located in Strasbourg, the Incoming New President-in-office of its Highest Political Body : that of the Committee of Ministers, David Zalkaliani, Georgia's Foreign Minister, Presented and Debated Officially the "Priorities" of the New rotating chairmanship :

- Among "4 Selected Priorities", the Number 2 is "Civil Participaton in (Public) Decision Making", he Announced Today, (the Other 3 concerning Human Rights and Environment, Children and Justice systems, Education and Culture).

>>> Indeed, Nowadays, "our Representative Democracies are increasingly Confronted by New Challenges : - The Decorrelation between Citizens’ preferences, and decisions taken by Public Authorities has been growing, while ...Trust in public authorities is at an Historic Low. Populism and the appearance of large, Grassroots Movements and Protests would tend to confirm a trend of Disaffection for the governors by the governed", he denounced.

=> - In Front of that, the InComing CoE's "Presidency considers that increasing the level of Input from Civil Society and from Citizens to guide Public Decisions can be one Way of Combating these Negative trends", he Explained. While Also, a "Continued civil society and Citizens’ Engagement Between Elections is Fundamental for the functioning of a Truly Democratic society, and opens a society-Wide Dialogue on Critical Issues", Zalkaliani Added.

- However, he made it Clear that "this does Not mean that Representative Democracy should be Replaced, But simply Complemented by more Participatory Democracy". Because "Civil Participation, by Citizens Directly, and through their NGOs, is Not Only the ... result of the Rights enshrined in Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedoms of Expression, Assembly and Association), But Also a ...value of European States and a Way of Governing", he Highlighted, ("which can better involve All stakeholders" : I.e. Both States and Citizens).

=> In Concrete terms, inter alia, CoE's Incoming Presidency intends to "Highlight and Promote", particularly, several "specific Legal Instruments" of the PanEuropean Organisation, among which, 2 concern "Local" Public Life, But anOther 2 Point at "Civil Participation" in all "Political Decision-Making", (Committee of Ministers "Recommendation to Member States" on 27/9/2017), and at a "Code of Good Practices" in all Public "Decision-Making Process", Revised "by (CoE's) Conference of INGOs on October 2019", (See: ..., etc). For that purpose, the Georgian Presidency of the CoE "will organize an International Conference" due to "Identify Useful and Innovative Experiences, of Succesfull engagement" of "Civil Participation in (Public) Decision-Making", at "Local/Regional and National Levels", on March 2020 in Strasbourg, he announced.

+ Other CoE's well informed sources told "Eurofora" that European Citizens' Participation in Public Decision-Making, particularly through New Communication Technologies, may also be among the Issues Discussed for the preparation of the Annual 2020 "World Democracy Forum", during the Next COE's Presidency by Greece, (May-November 2020).

Already, during the Previous Greece's CoE Presidency, Facilitate Citizens' Access to New Communication Networks was HighLighted in the main Decision taken by the Concluding CoE's Ministerial Summit at Thessaloniki, as Early as Back on 1998, (i.e. practically Near the Beginning of the Web : See "Eurofora" co-Founder's relevant NewsReports, Published, then, at "MPAgency").

Meanwhile, CoE had, Already, Organized a 1st "World Forum for Democracy" about "Connecting Institutions and Citizens in the Digital Age", Back on 2013, (See, f.ex., among others, also "Eurofora"s INTW of the co-Founder of Germany's "Pirate" Party, a Computer Engineer, at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eupiratepartyseipenbuschworlddemocracyforum.html, etc). But it wasn't yet Focused Precisely on Citizens' Dialogue in Public Decision-Making, and it lacked most of the relevant Technical, Political, and Legal Tools available Nowadays, as well as the Overall Socio-Political Context, (Comp. Supra).

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+ Earlier this Week, since Monday Evening in Strasbourg, the Experienced former EU Parliament's President, EU Commissioner, and f. Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, currently New President of the AFCO Committee in EU Parliament, on Constitutional Issues, introduced a Long and Landmark Debate between Many interested MEPs, on How to Co-Organize the above-mentioned EU "Conference on Europe's Future", (Comp. Supra).

>>> Inter alia, a Strikingly Common Point, shared by Many MEPs from Various Countries and/or Political Groups, was to practicaly Ask for a Genuine and Large EU Citizens' Participation, (not only from some countries, and/or some social segments, etc, but from the Widest possible Horizons of Life), through an Innovative and Efficient, adequate "Organisational Design" to be conceived, for a quite "Permanent" duration, and with a relevant and serious "Dialogue", including appropriate "Replies" and a "concrete Outcome" : Or, Otherwise, there will be a Deception, and it's Better Not to do it at all !", Timely and Rightfully Warned many MEPs...

=> Through an incoming Process of various Amendments and Votes, at several Committees, (after a 1st Joint Paper by the Biggest 4 Political Groups of MEPs), in Cooperation with a Special "Working Group" set up inside EU Parliament, as well as its Presidential Committee, a Draft Resolution is due to be Prepared for Public Debate and Final Vote for Adoption at the January 2020 Plenary Session, Tajani foresaw, apparently in Agreement with the New President of EU Parliament, David Sassoli.

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++ In Addition, from EU Member States' point of view, the Franco-German EU Core issued, Yesterday, a "Non Paper", with several "Suggestions" on how that CFE should unfold :

- Welcoming EU "Commission's Initiative for a Conference Starting in 2020 and Ending in 2022", (i.e. during 2 Years, almost Between the forthcoming German and French EU Presidencies, on "Mid-2020" and "early 2022", respectively), France and Germany "Stress", inter alia, also

>>> "the Necessity of Broad Ownership", Not Only "by All EU Institutions" and "Member States", But Also "Our (EU's) Citizens". This "Needs" to "Allow for Broad Consultation and Participation of experts/civil society (academia, think tanks, professional unions and organisations etc.) and Citizens".

- The CFE will Include also "Cross-Cutting Issues to promote Democracy". In particular, "Citizens’ Participation in EU institutions/matters", would be  among "Issues related to EU Democratic functionning", (i.e. Together with "Elections", "Trans-National Lists", "Lead Candidates' system", etc), in "Phase 1", which "would Start as early as February 2020, Until the Summer of 2020". It would be Followed by a "Phase 2" on "Policy priorities" and "Mid-Term Reviews", between "Mid-2020 ... and Early 2022", (Comp. Supra).

- Urging for a "Strong Involvement of our (EU) Citizens", that Franco-German "Non-Paper" "Suggests a Bottom-Up Process", with "EU-Wide Participation of our Citizens on All Issues  discussed", which "is a Key", But "along Experts’ Input and Guiding Questions", as it Adds.  This should also "Take into Account the (EU) Citizens’ Dialogues and Consultations in 2018", it adds, (even if their Practical Organisation was quite Different : See, f.ex., French President Macron's Statement also to "Eurofora" in the 1st, Inaugural such "Citizens' Consultation" at Epinal, and his Reply to our Question, the Day After, at Saint-Dié : ..., + ..., etc).

- Meanwhile, the "2nd Half of 2020" would serve to "Launch" several "EU-Wide... Citizens Dialogues", (as well as "Expert Meetings").

=> "Results" from Citizens' Participation "will be fed into the further procedure, esp. the Thematic, as well as Midterm reviews, and Closing conferences", (on 2021-2022).

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    EU Rapporteur on Enlargment Strategy, maistream German MEP Elmar Brok, speaking to "EuroFora", welcomed the proposal made earlier this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the EU to"start Now Talks with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", instead of full Accession, at a period when Ankara looks more and more unfit and/or unwilling to respect EU conditions.

    - "For Europe to have strong Political will, it must stop dilutiing itself in an endless Enlargement. It must have borders...Diversities enrich, on the condition that they don't undermine European Cohesion, and don't weaken EU Unity", Sarkozy stressed.
    
    - "Countries like Turkey share a part of common destiny with Europe, with which they have a vocation to build a Privileged Relation, to be closely associated, but not to become Member of the EU"  : "Noone respects his friends by telling them lies. Noone respects his friends by making them promises that will be never kept", he added.

    That's why "we'd better start, from now, negotiating with Turkey to create a common Economic and Security area", Sarkozy proposed.

Significantly, the French President was repeatedly and largely applauded by EU citizens, 3 times, when he made the Turkey point, (strategically placed between Europe's "Political Will" and its cultural heritage, historically open to mutually enriching dialogue with all the World, but never diluted).

    - "We could propose such a great ambition also to Russia, which must not be percieved as an Adversary of Europe, but as a Partner. Thus, we'd create a wide area, of more than 800 Million inhabitants, sharing the same Security, the same Prosperity", he concluded.

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    Sarkozy's move was anounced at the eve of a Franco-German Top meeting with Chancellor Angie Merkel in Berlin on Sunday, to jointly launch the EU Elections campain, after an EU Summit at nearby Prague, to launch a new kind of relations, called "Eastern Partnership", with neighboring countries such as Urkaine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, etc, (to which Russia, reportedly, is not - and does not want to be - included).

    As for Ukraine, which has already expressed her wish to join the EU in future, "Kiev will have a special place, and a very important role to play", replied earlier this week in Strasbourg, to an "EuroFora" question EU Chairman in office , Czech vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra.

    - "This direction is more Realistic for Turkey than Accession negotiations", reacted immediately EU Parliament's Rapporteur for Enlargment Strategy, mainstream German MEP Elmar Brok, commenting Sarkozy's idea for "EuroFora"

     Particularly "as far as it concerns the respect of EU Rules by both sides", he added, hinting at Turkey's now obvious inability and/or unwillingness to abide with EU Acquis, EU Commitments (fex. on Cyprus, etc), and European Democracy/Human Rights rules. (Comp. infra).

    Brok added that, in his view, a similar proposal might be made also to Ukraine and other neighbouring Countries, regardless if they have, or not, a "European vocation". This would not necessarily mean that there couldn't be any accession prospects at all." for all the countries that might be included in this area, according to Brok.  But it's preferable, particularly for Turkey, "because it's a more Realistic approach than full Membership".

    On this point, Sarkozy's proposal, (which he'll share with German Chancellor Merkel), seems more crystal-clear.

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    - "Turkey does not fullfil EU Criteria, and will never fullfil EU Criteria" on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. "Some have been lying to Ankara, but we must tell the Truth, and have honest and close relations with her", said meanwhile to "EuroFora" on the same issue also the President of EU Parliament's largest Group of MEPs (ChristianDemocrats/EPP), Joseph Daul.
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"Hot" Debate at EU Parliament reveals CHANGE of mood towards "Suspension" of EU - Tukey talks.
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    Earlier this week, many MEPs, and even some of those who were previously in favor of Turkey's controversial EU bid, strongly criticized the persistance and even aggravation of serious Human Rights violations in the country, that ECHR continues to "unanimously" condemn ":

      - "After winning a big victory in the latest Local Elections, the pro-Kurdish party DTP almost doubled its Elected Mayors from 52 to 98", but afterwards "more than 400 politicians were thrown to Prison and prosecuted" by the Turkish Authorities, denounced on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, Belgian MEP Frieda Brepoels.

     At the same time, "more than 1.500 Children are closed in Turkish Prisons", she added. "What will the EU Commission do" against these facts ?

- "Turkey appears to be at greater Distance away from Copenhagen Criteria after 4 Years of accession Negotiations, than when they started !", denounced on behalf of the Liberal Group, German MEP Alexander Lambsdorf.    

"On the central issue of Press Freedom, Critical Journalists face obstacles for their accreditation, others are prosecuted, condemned, fined and/or jailed, Media blocked or closed", he denounced.   

 - "EU Made 2 grave Mistakes with Turkey : To start accession negotiations, and to continue them", despite everything, criticized Dutch MEP Bastian Belder, on behalf of the Ind/Dem group.

(../..)

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