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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)

Автор ACM
miércoles, 27 noviembre 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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    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
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    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

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Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

      ***     
 
     (Draft due to be updated).
 
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