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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Governance Head Mollari to EF:"e"-Democracy Ready to Boost Citizens Participation since Pandemic

CoE Governance Head Mollari to EF:"e"-Democracy Ready to Boost Citizens Participation since Pandemic

Written by ACM
Friday, 08 May 2020

 

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- Replying to a relevant "Eurofora"s Question, the President a.i. of CoE's prestigious PanEuropean Committee on Democracy and Governance, Markku Mollari, from Finland, announced, in substance, that Digital "E"-Democracy is practically Ready, Nowadays, to Help Boost Citizens Participation to Public Decision-Making, (along the main lines of "Eurofora"s Project), particularly since the current Pandemic Virus' Crisis.

- And he did Not Exclude, a priori, that this may, "Later"-on, even "Lead" also to a "Hard Law", throughout CoE's 47 Member Countries, (See Infra).

Significantly, he said that in the Context of a landmark CoE's International Conference on civil Participation in Decision-Making, where "Eurofora" had been Invited to take an active part, by CoE's Presidency by Georgia, (November 2019-May 2020, shortly before Greece takes over, Later this Month, for the Period of May - November 2020, followed by Germany). Initially Scheduled for the Beginning of March in Strasbourg, this was the 1st CoE's International Conference obliged to be Postponed sine die, because of the Deadly Virus' Crisis, But it Resumed Nowadays, precisely in the Form of a Digital Web-Conference...

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- "Eurofora" had practically Asked President Markku Mollari :

(A) "WHEN" he expected that a Link between "e-Democracy" and "civil Participation" might be Developed by the CoE, as he had Highlighted Earlier (See Infra), and Whether he "could ... be ... Explicit about its Content".


(B) "IF" he thought that, even an eventually "Soft Law" (f.ex. in the Form of a CoE's "Recommendation"), might, eventually, Become, Later-on, "at least Partially, also "Hard Law", f.ex. via National Judges' Case-Law, Legislators, Administrative Practice, etc., perhaps Coordinated by ECHR".

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- (A) "Thank you. To Answer the 1st Part of Your Question, the Guidelines on E-Democracy  ...have Already been approved by the (CoE's) Committee on Democracy and Governance...", its President sharply replied to "Eurofora".

- But, at least for the Time being, this has been done "in the Form of a Toolkit", and just "in Substance",  Not Yet "in their Final Version", as he pointed out.

=> In Consequence, "they Will be (Definitively and Completely) Approved", once Finalized, "in the (CoE) Committee's Next Plenary meeting", which is due, "most Likely", to be organized around this "Summer" 2020, (i.e. during the InComing Greek CoE's Presidency of May-November 2020), he Carefully Announced.  

+ In Fact, these New (2020) CoE's "Guidelines" have a Solid "Base" "on Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 of the Committee of Ministers (CoE's Highest Political Body) to member States, on Electronic (e)-Democracy", Markku Mollari reminded. Which is  "the 1st International Legal Instrument to set Standards in the field of E-Democracy" in the World, already 15 Years Earlier...

+ Concerning their Content (Comp. Supra), "in Line with the Focus on Multi-Level governance of the (CoE's) Committee on Democracy and Governance" in general, these New (2020) "Guidelines seek to provide Authorities at All Levels, with concrete Examples of Policies, Measures and Mechanisms that can contribute to  EnRiching a Democratic Culture and Strengthening Democratic Practices and institutions, at National, Regional and Local level", he added.

++ Moreover, "these (New, 2020 CoE's) Guidelines are addressed to the Broad Range of Stakeholders, such as Public Authorities and their representatives, Political" organisations, "Individuals (Citizens), NGOs, and Civil Society at large, including Media, and the Business community", he specified. This is "In Line with the Consistent Approach Used by the CoE in the area of Democracy" in general.

+++ The, ("Currently Finalized"), "Documents include (also)  Mechanisms related to e-Participation, e-Petitions and e-Referendums", he revealed Earlier, (but withOut going into Concrete Details).

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(B) "With regards to Your 2nd Question, (Comp. Supra), these "Soft" Tools are meant to be Practical, and Helpful – they should be relatively Easy to apply... We intended for the many Examples in the document from various countries to act as an Inspiration - to apply them as Appropriate, share Ideas and get new ones", President Mollari Replied to "Eurofora".

- This goes "Even in Difficult circumstances", he Stressed.

+ However, At the Moment, he felt that "it is Too Early (sic !) to say Whether these will Lead to any “Hard Law”", (But withOut Excluding Anything, a priori)...

=> "That should be Evaluated Later", he Wisely Concluded, Replying to Our Ultime Query (Comp. Supra), in a way which Left the Future Open !

Topicaly,, CoE's Democracy/Governance Committee's President Markku Mollari from Finland, said that to "Eurofora", Just 1 Month Before the next EU Heads of State/Government Summit, on Mid-June, which is due to Deal also with the Forthcoming Exceptional "Conference on Europe's Future" (2020-2021+), where EU Citizens' Participation to Public Decision-Making is Notoriously at the Focus...

- At any case, it's a Fact that, "in the Present Day – no less during our current Health Emergency –", "one canNot discuss civil Participation  withOut referring to anOther Theme, closely followed by the European (EU+CoE) community: e-Democracy", righfully Mollari Stressed Earlier.

- Because "Digital tools and Technologies can, and should, Support Democratic processes, by providing increased Access to political Decision-making, and enabling Citizens to Participate in the public Debate, in New Ways" he underlined.

=> That's why, "the good cooperation between New Tools (Internet) and Traditional tools of Participation, is the Key to building better Trust ...between different levels of Government and the wider civil Society", "Reflecting the Centrality of this topic for the present and future of Democratic practice".

At a Moment when the In-coming CoE's Greek Presidency, later this Month, (May-November 2020) seems reportedly due to Focus, precisely, on such Digital Tools, Both in order to ByPass Problems raised by the Virus' Crisis, and in order to Boost a Public Democratic Debate with Citizens on core Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law during Pandemics, while, at the Same Time, also the EU Leaders prepare an Exceptional 2020-2021 Conference on "Europe's Future", due to Focus also on EU Citizens' Participation to the Decision-making, the above-mentioned Key Observations of PanEuropean CoE's "Democracy and Governance" Committee's experienced President, are certainly of key Topical Interest.

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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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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