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Pagina principale 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)

Scritto da 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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Speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", the New EU Parliament's President, former Polish Prime Minister, ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Jerzy Busek, welcomed proposals by EuroFora about innovative ways for EU Citizens to attend EU debates before important final decisions which affect people's lives.

- "We (EU Parliament) must be transparent", Buzek stressed from the outset.  "We must have clear answers also for delicate questions. If we don't touch a problem, you must know why, and when shall we decide in the nearest future".. "Because "we (EU) must think about Europeans, first of all : They don't understand well what is going on in the EU. So, it's our duty to inform them, to make discussions here more interesting".

"EuroFora" congratulated President Buzek for the anouncement he made, from the 1st day of his election in Strasbourg (on Tuesday, 14 July 2009), on his intention to make  transparent debates, exchanges of views, etc. before the final adoption of decisions in EU Parliament's Plenary, when issues are evolving inside Committees, (See earlier publication).

And we reminded, in this regard, that "EuroFora" has been advocating a project for EU Citizens' active involvement in pluralist EU debates before important EU decisions, since more than a Decade : 1997-2007+

- "Thank you. We (EU Parliament), indeed, have exciting debates", Buzek replied. But, in practice, "without a possibility for our Citizens to see them, not even by the Press, the Radio or TV, etc., because it is in Committees", he regreted.

- "But, they (i.e. Media, Citizens, etc) might interact with you, with MEPs, etc, May be we can imagine something", "EuroFora" proposed.

- "Yes, (but) it needs, a quite new idea", Buzed observed.

- "Why not through some innovations ?", "EuroFora" suggested.

- "Innovation ? That's it. Fantastic  New Information Technologies !", Buzek realized.

- "Precisely, "EuroFora" has such a project, since more than a Decade (1997-2009), to use new technologies for public debates before major EU decisions are taken", we reminded.

- "If you have such proposals, please come to us, come to us. We must" do something, agreed the new EU Parliamen's President.

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    This fits with Buzek's main stance, expressed at EU Parliament's plenary earlier this week in Strasbourg, that the European Union must succeed to overcome a "Crisis of Trust" vis a vis EU Citizens. (See previous EuroFora publication).

    For that purpose, obviously information and debates are valuable, but purely instrumental, procedural means which can help focus on, and highlight a substantial content, attractive to EU Citizens, which needs to be determined by other, political, and not mediatic factors.  

    Buzek spoke about the urgent need to overcome the Global Economic Crisis,  the struggle for Human and Civic Rights, Democracy, etc., the Eastern Partnership, links with Russia, strategic partnership with USA and emerging countries, etc.

    But he also used (while speaking both to "EuroFora" and other Media) the expression : "The Europeans", for EU Citizens. This points right towards what several important EU leaders (including French President Sarkozy, German Chancellor Merkel, etc) have started to highlight particularly during the recent years : That there is a vital need, and an historic opportunity, for the development of a European Conscience, to stimulate e renaissance of a European Identity able to attract Popular support, for the EU to become a strong player in a Multopolar World : In other words, the revitalisation of a project for a "Political Europe".

    By a coincidence, this was indirectly but surely reminded, earlier in Strasbourg, by another ... Busek (this time with a "s") : 

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    Speaking to more than 650 participants from CoE's member countries, at the conclusion of the 2009 Summer University of its Political Schools, Erhard Busek, (with an "s"), former vice-Chancellor of Austria and EU Coordinator for South-Eastern Europe, pointed at the current need to revitalize Europe's "Identity", forged by Greek philosophy and Roman Law, Christian values and Enlightment's ideas, etc. through the ages.     

- "We have almost the same name with Jerzy Buzek (EU Parliament's new President, who is a former Polish Prime Minister), because both our Families come ...from  the same village, located at the Heart of Europe, which was often shared between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. But my family emmigrated a long time ago to Austria, while Jerzy Buzek's family remained in Poland", explained f. vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek to "EuroFora".   

 An astonishingly concrete and simple example of European Integration from the grassroots : Starting by EU Citizens, i.e. those "Europeans", that EU Parliament's new President, Jerzy Buzek (this time with a "z"), wants to bring alongside MEP's decision-making proces, (according to "EuroFora"'s main idea : Comp. supra)...

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