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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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    The recent paradox of freezing EU Talks with front-runner Croatia, while continuing controversial EU - Turkey talks, despite Zagreb's acceptance of Refugees' Human Rights to return, that Ankara refuses fex. in Cyprus, while both have "Good Neighborhood" problems vis a vis Slovenia, or Greece, Cyprus and Armenia respectively, can it be justified by the non-fullfilment of EU criteria, as Slovenia says, or, is it "Double Standards" ?    

The question became unavoidable after statements by Presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Tuerk and Mesic, respectively, to "EuroFora", exclusively or among Strasbourg's journalists this week at the CoE, on the sidelines of its 2009 Summer University for Political Schools, which topically brought them together as successive key-note speakers.


    Comming only a few Months before EU checks Turkey's compliance to its commitments on Cyprus, etc., scheduled for December 2009, this obviously has a special importance for the coherence of EU Enlargement's principles.

     Suspension of EU Negotiations is a normal consequence in case of a Candidate Country's failure to fullfil EU Conditions, such as "Good Neighborhood relations", stressed at first Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, current CoE's chair.

    But, regarding EU's Criteria,  there shouldn't be any "Double Standards",  reacted Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, commenting the fact that Turkey's controversial EU negotiations continue, while they were recently "freezed" in the case of Croatia, an "unquestionably European Country", which oficially accepts to respect Refugees Human Rights, contrary to Ankara's notorious refusals or reluctance.                                       

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           - "EU itself has set as a Criterium (for EU Enlargement) the "Good Neighborhood relations",  and their absence justifies the "Suspension" EU Negotiations, (f.ex. with Croatia), because of a Border dispute affecting the territorial integrity of an EU Member Country, stressed Slovenian President, Danilo Tuerk, CoE's Chairman in office (May - November 2009), speaking to Journalists in Strasbourg including "EuroFora".    

Questioned earlier what "consequences on EU's Enlargement policy" can have the "Ban on EU Membership Negotiations", imposed to Croatia, Tuerk replied that "this question comes down to the fulfillement of (EU) Criteria for membership. One has to look at each Candidate Country ., from the point of view whether it fullfils the Criteria that EU has set. One of them are Good Neighborhood Relations, I'd like to remind. And also, there are other factors, such as Justice, Home affairs, Rule of Law, and others".


    - "Now, ..Candidate Countries are at Different Levels of fulfillement of Criteria", he observed.

    - " Croatia is obviously the closest to that. I'm rather optimistic : I think that in the coming Months we'll have an opportunity to look at all these issues constructively and hopefully we'll be able to make progress". "My main concern, at this point, is the situation in Bosnia : We haven't seen enough progres domesticaly. We haven't seen enough during ..political parties within their country.We need a New Energy, a new energetic move towards the Candidature for EU membership. "Other (Western Balkan) Countries (Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania) have been making soaring Progress, and I think that they should be ready, in a few Years, for the Candidate status".

    - "As far as the Western Balkans are concerned, .. nobody should be left outside" the EU, Slovenian's President concluded, ommitting to mention Turkey's controversial EU bid.

    - "This process may be seen as Slow, but..  Slovenia has also has also been exposed to various "Booms of Slowness" in our accession period. But now we can say that the process was relatively quick, because changes which occur after becoming EU member, are quite large, and they require proper Preparations before the (EU) membership becomes a new factor, an impacting line for a new (EU) member country".
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EU "Solidarity" ?
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Slovenian statements made some participants from certain 3rd Countries as FYROM, etc. claim that "the Principle of EU Solidarity" would "produce a.. rising European Union Nationalism (sic !), against Non-EU Countries", as they said, asking unhappy foreign countries to form a "bloc" to exert pressure on the EU...    

But Croatian President Stjepan Mesic dismissed that, supporting "EU Integration", "after the Economy also in Political" issues, as "the achievement" of our times. In EU there is "diversity, but it's United", he stressed, "EU has to be United so that it can become a central factor of Peace" also at the surrounding areas, he replied.

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Speaking later exclusively to "EuroFora", the experienced twice President of Croatia, former President of the International "Non-Aligned" movement, denounced "Double Standards" in the way EU treats recently Croatia compared to Turkey :   

 - "I think that there shouldn't be Double Standards", stressed the Croatian President, in reply to a Question comparing the freeze of EU - Croatia talks, with the continuation of EU - Turkey talks, despite the fact that Croatia is an "unquestionably European country", while Turkey's EU bid is notoriously controversial.


    Mesic was reacting to the observation that, even if he confirmed his "respect of Refugees' Human Rights to return, etc. (See infra), nevertheless, EU talks are suspended with Croatia.. While for oher, controversial candidates, who refuse to respect Refugees' Rights to return, etc., as fex. Turkey does in occupied Cyprus and elsewhere, EU negotiations continue".

    - "I believe that Croatia's accession will confirm that all European Countries who fulfill all of the Conditions and achieve European Standards, have to join the EU. There shouldn't be any Double Standards", went on to add in reply President Mesic.

    In this relation, Croatia's President found "of paramount importance", CoE's "mechanisms enforcing ECHR's judgements"
    
    - "On Refugees and Displaced persons, the process will be completed only after the last person demanding to return will be allowed to do so !", President Mesic Croatia stressed earlier, setting a general standard of obvious importance also for otherr candidates, as f.ex. Turkey, often accused to exclude or heavily restrict Greek Cypriot Displaced persons' return to their Family Homes and ancestral land, provoke difficulties to Turkish-Kurd IDPs return to their home regions at the South-East, etc.

    Some "2.000 People are still reported Missing" in former Yugoslavia, for some Years, (as in Cyprus, modern Europe's oldest case, for 3 Decades. Nagorno-Karabach, Tcecnya in Russia, etc, more recently), and Investigations "will only be completed after establishing the fate of the last one of them", he added.
    
    Speaking earlier on "War Crimes", President Mesic stressed that "Leaders are responsible for (the) Wars (of the Past), not the People", and called against Impunity :  "Individuals have to be held Responsible for Crimes. International Penal Tribunals have to persecute those individuals", perpetrators of War Crimes, he underlined.

    Such statements naturally made Mesic rather popular at ECHR, whose President, French EuroJudge, Professor Jean-Paul Costa, looked particularly smiling when he welcomed him later on Wednesday afternoon, after Slovenian President Daniko Tuerk earlier this week.
           

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