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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)

Pisac ACM
27. 11. 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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  Ten Years of ECHR : 1998 - 2008 show need of Revival in 2009-2010 coinciding with 2009 EU Election
   

A threefold, coordinated move by new Top French Political actors in the 2009 EU Parliament Elections, expressed in Strasbourg a will to boost Europe's Political dimension close to Citizens' concerns, going from protection of Economy to defence of Human Rights.    

The move met an exceptional ECHR's call for a "revival" of Human Rights' protection mechanism', in a Mega-Conference, early 2010.   

Obviously focusing on June 2009 Elections to EU Parliament, it involved from the outset the recently nominated "dual" Head of French Governing Party (UMP)  Michel BARNIER and Rachida DATI :

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     - "As President Sarkozy has clearly said, we (France) are in favor of a Strong, Sovereign and Independent, Political Europe, which protects its Citizens, and not for a large Super-Market, nor for a Europe under influence",

    "This goes for everything, including Energy", added to "EuroFora" the experienced former EU Commissioner, Minister of Foreign affairs, currently of Agriculture and Sarkozy's new pick as Leader of the Governing party UMP to EU 2009 Election, Michel BARNIER                                              .                             

  - Human Rights are important because they are at the Heart of the Political Europe that we aspire for : I.e. a Europe able to act and protect its Citizens, stressed also the New French Minister for European affairs, Bruno LE MAIRE, while meeting Strasbourg's Journalists at his first visit to the CoE.   

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This is one of the main interests for CoE, which is also a natural place for cooperation between EU countries and Russia or Turkey, which was recently helpful at the Middle East crisis, he added.

The move gained momentum with French Minister of Justice, Rachida Dati's main observations at ECHR's 5Oth Anniversary :   

- "While we are seeking Europe's Borders and Identity, you (ECHR) remind us also of its Values", Human Rights, Dati noted.   

Citizens seek more and more often ECHR's help, and the tempo accelerates, Europa awaits a symbol, while national legal orders are not freezed   

And she expressed "support" to ECHR President Jean-Paul Costa's call to satisfy the vital need to revigorate the PanEuropean Court by deciding big changes at a High-Level Conference open to a large audience, a kind of "Etats Generaux" of Human Rights, at the beginning of 2010.       

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It's not so much the recently growing number of applications for Russia or Ukraine etc, which seems to be Costa's main concern : In fact, the cases declared "admissible" are much fewer...    

But rather the persistent violations of Human Rights, sometimes very grave (ie. murders, torture, abritrary deprivation of liberty, oppression of freedom of speech, destructions of homes/properties, etc), despite numerous, repeated condemnations by ECHR. So that CoE's Ministers, due to "supervise execution" of ECHR's judgements, are overloaded.   

F.ex. most Media noted that Turkey still remains, even in 2008, the 1st among 47 CoE member States in the number of condemnations by ECHR :  257, compared to 233 for Russia, with a population more than the double..    

The problem is that it's not the 1st time at all : During all the last Decade 1998-2008, Turkey was condemned by ECHR much more than any other State, and for particularly grave violations :   

- 1.652 condemnations, compared to 605 for Russia, 548 for Poland, 494 for France, 476 for Ukraine, etc.   

Italy's second place with 1.394 condemnations is a misleading false appearance : In fact, most of them (999) concern mere "procedural delays" in national courts. Same for France.   

On the contrary, Turkey was condemned 180 times for Killings, 192 times for Torture or Inhuman/Degrading treatments, 340 times for arbitrary deprivation of Liberty, 528 times for "Unfair trial", and 169 times for oppression of Freedom of speech, (etc). And the latest, 2008 numbers, indicate no change in this trend, (See supra).   

The current Spanish CoE Presidency (November 2008 - May 2009) has made of the implementation of ECHR's judgements its 1st Priority.   

ECHR's President, Jean-Paul Costa, stressed in its 2009 Annual Press Conference, CoE Member States' obligation to implement the judgements, according to Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights.   

Moreover, if CoE's Committee of Ministers delays to ensure implementation, then, the repetition of violations in similar cases provokes a multiplication of complaints tabled to the Court, which overload the mecanism for the protection of Human Rights, denounced Costa.          

A series of Debates on "the situation of Human Rights in Europe", focusing on the "need to fight against Impunity" of perpetrators of grave crimes, is  currently prepared by CoE's Parliamentary Assembly for the session of June 2009.  

The final Timing comes shortly AFTER the EU Elections, but the main Reports should have been adopted before.

Meanwhile, French President Sarkozy and German Chancelor Merkel's recent call "for a Political Europe" in 2009 EU Elections (See earlier "correspondence from Paris, Elysee Palace), seems more and more endorsed also by other EU Countries' Top MEPs :

Thus, f.ex., EU Parliament's 1st vice-President, Greek MEP Mrs Rodi KRATSA, speaking to "EuroFora", agreed that 2009 EU Election would be a "naturally good" opportunity to debate what really interests EU Citizens : "The Future of a Political Europe, able to face the Economic Crisis, with a Culture and identity which attracts the People"

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(Photo taken earlier during Sarkozy's 1st visit at EU Parliament, in 2007 : Sarkozy and Merkel's Ideas for a Political Europe inspire also other EU politicians accross the continent)..
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