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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUOmbudsman Press Head Gadesman to EF on Citizens in Decision-Making: Transparency OK, but Dialogue?

EUOmbudsman Press Head Gadesman to EF on Citizens in Decision-Making: Transparency OK, but Dialogue?

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- "Eurofora"s Project for Citizens' Debates with European Institutions before important Decisions affecting their Lives and/or Society at large, is obviously Facilitated by EU Moves "Starting Today", as far as prior "Transparency" is concerned, including even EU Council's Member States' positions during Deliberations in Brussels, (until now kept Secret), but could be Followed asap also by "Dialogue", as it results, in substance, by the Replies given to our Questions by the Press Director of EU's Defender of Citizens, alias Ombudsman, Gundi Gadesmann, (or, rather, Nowadays : "OmbudsWoman", since, for the 1st Time in History, the current EU Top Official is a Lady : Emily O'Reilly, an experienced former Long-Time Journalist, and also National Ombudswoman from Ireland).


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- Using EU Lisbon "Treaty-Based Rights", "EU Citizens should be EmPowered to ... Participate in the Democratic Process, and Seek to Influene Decisions on New Legislation", stressed, as a matter of Principle, Emily O'Reilly's Conclusions, Published Today and send by EU Ombudsman's Press Service to Journalists, including "Eurofora", following a one Year-long (2017-2018) "Strategic Inquiry" at her own Initiative, after becoming "Aware of Concerns about percieved Lack of Accountabiity and consequent Lack of Opportunity for Citizens' Participation" in EU Decision-Making, particularly Because there is Not "Sufficient Openness to Allow" that.


- Indeed, according to the 1st Article of EU's Lisbon Treaty, "Decisions are Taken as Openly as possible, and as Closely as possible to the Citizen"


+ To which is Added also Article 10, alinea 3, which stresses that "Every Citizen shall have the Right to Participate in the Democratic Life of the Union". Therefore, EU "Decisions shall be taken as Openly, and as Closely as possible to the Citizen".


>>> In that regard, EU's Lisbon Treaty "marks a NEW STAGE" in EU Integration "process of creating an ever Closer Union" among European People, reminds Aticle 1.


The Concrete Occasion in order to remind those General Principles, had been given to O'Reilly by Problems Faced by EU Citizens in knowing the Position of each EU Member State during the Deliberations of EU Council :

Until Now, this was Not made Public, as well as several related Documents, seriously Restricting the Transparency of EU's Decision-Making process, and Limiting the National Governments' Accountability, vis a vis interested Citizens, in National and/or European Elections.


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+ But as a matter of Principle, O'Reilly made now a Wider Reference, (in order to better Motivate her Decision for more Transparency, related particularly to EU Citizens' role regarding the Decision-Making Process of Public Administrations), to the Fact that EU Parliament already practices a full Transparency (via Internet "streaming" and Videos on line) of MEPs' Debates and Votes in its Commission's work for the Preparation of Final Decisions by the Plenary Sessions, afterwards :

I.e. an Idea which was Conceived, Decided and Announced by former EU Parliament's President, Professor Jerzy Buzek, (former Prime Minister of Poland), during a Press Contact with "Eurofora", as early as, already since July 2009, as one among his Practical spontaneous Reactions when we had Discussed with him, precisely, the overall "Eurofora"s Project, on EU Citizens' Debates with MEPs Before Final Decisions are taken by EU Parliament's Plenary, using also New Communication Technologies in order to Facilitate and Simplify things, (for which, he had kindly Asked us to Send him also a Written Note : See http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/irish/buzekeurofora.html). 

Buzek is, Nowadays, President of EU Parliament's Energy, Industry and Scientific/Technological Research Commission, which naturally deals also with various Topical Issues concerning the Internet, etc, (Comp., f.ex., a Recent INTW given by Buzek to "Eurofora" on 2017, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/buzekoneucloud.html).

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 By a Coincidence, the above-mentioned 2018 Move from EU Ombudsman was announced Today Morning just Hours after "Eurofora" spoke, Yesterday Evening, in a Collective Meeting organized by Strasbourg City on "European Democracy" projects about Big Changes introduced, on the Key issues related to our Project, precisely by EU's latest "Lisbon" Treaty, (which was, notoriously, Drafted since 2007, but didn't Enter into Force before 2010). A key point, which, curiously, didn't seem well known (and/or acceptable) by some, not even Eleven (11) Years Later, on 2018...  

- Already, as Early as since January 2010, (i.e., practicaly, from the Beginning of the current, EU Lisbon Treaty), the Experienced, Twice Elected, former EU Ombudsman, Professor (of Law) Nikiforos Diamandouros, speaking to "Eurofora", had clearly Announced his Intention to Start Using EU's brand new "Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms", (part of Lisbon Treaty package), and, particularly, the General Principle of "Good Administration", 'established by EU Charter's Article 41), in a very "Wide" way, in Addition to "Transparency" Issues, which might, Taken Together, become Key Building Blocks for "Eurofora"s Project's main Idea :


I.e. by including, f.ex., the Legal Principles of "Impartiality" and "Fairness", as well as of  "reasonably Timely" Public Administration's Decisions, added to Citizens' Rights to "be Heard", have "Access to ...Files" affecting their "affairs", as well as for a Motivation giving the "Reasons" of Decisions :

=> A coherent series of Rules able to push for a kind of Dialogue between Citizens and Public Authorities, (since the "Reasons" of their Decisions should, normally, Reply to affected Citizens' previous "Hearing", as National Administrative Law often precsribes also in several EU Countries, etc), serving also as a Safeguard against eventual Abuse of Discretionary Power. (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/euombudsman.html , and Comp., as far as PanEuroepan CoE's recent similar Legal tools are concerned : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeruleoflawchecklistandeuroforaproject.html , etc. Comp. also various Other Statements by Diamandouros, as well as by his Predecessor : the 1st EU Ombudsman in History, Jacob Söderman, to "Eurofora"'s co-Founder, Published, Earlier, to "TCWeekly" and/or "MPAgency"+).

 

eu_ombudswoman_on_2017_good_administration_award_brx_photo_eu_400 

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++ But EU's Lisbon Treaty's Innovations as far as it concerns "Eurofora"s Project (Comp. Supra) are Not Limited Only to those "Transparency" and/or "Hearing"+"Motivation Issues, already Evoked Above, regarding Citizens' role in EU Decision-Making.


 >>> Indeed, according Article 11 of the Treaty, alineas 1 and 2, Adds also that "Institutions shall ... Give Citizens ... the Opportunity to make Known, and publicly Exchange their Views, in All areas of (European) Union Action", as well as, that "Institutions shall maintain an Open, Transparent, and Regular DIALOGUE with ... Civil Society".


O'Reilly did Not Refer, in her above-mentioned Decision Published Today, to this EU Treaty Article, simply because it was Not yet Necessary for the sole purpose of Disclosing Member States' Position during EU Council's collective Deliberations, which was at the Focus of her latest Strategic Inquiry.


However, this EU Lisbon Treaty's Addition of Citizens' Right to "make Known, and publicly Exchange their Views, in all areas of (EU's) Action", as well as, for all "Civil Society", to "maintain an Open, Transparent and REGULAR DIALOGUE" with EU "Institutions", (thanks to "appropriate Means", provided by them), Naturally lies at the Heart of "Eurofora"s Project, for EU Citizens' Debates with EU Decision-Makers (as MEPs, EU Commissioners, Member States' Representatives, EU Council's Presidency, and various specific EU Bodies, partly also National bodies when applying EU Law or Principles, etc), Before they take importan Measures which affect their Lives and/or Society at large...


=> In consequence, "Eurofora" raised, on Today's Occasion, a Question to EU Ombudsman's Press Director, Gundi Gadesmann, on whether these important Additional Possibilities for Citizens' Participation in EU's Decision-Making process, as prescribed by Lisbon Treaty's Article 11, perhaps were or will be Examined by any relevant O'Reilly's Enquiry, in the foreseable Future.


- Gadesmann reminded that a Similar, but quite "Particular" Issue had been Raised, in the Past, just on the occasion of a "Religion-related" Case, but, at First Sight, Not yet as a matter of General Principle, as in "Eurofora"s Query.


- Nevertheless, she did Not Exclude at all that such an Important Development (which was also Timely : given both the forthcoming 2019 EU Elections, and the current Political Context in most EU Countries, with Electoral Abstentions, rise of so-called "Populism" and/or "EuroScepticism", as well as Citizens' DisTrust of Establishment's mainsream Medias, often also Politicians, etc), might, Indeed, eventually Pop-up at the Forefront of EU Ombudsman's Future Activities, during the Next 1 or 2 Years, etc.


 - She even went as far as to kindly Suggest, amused, that, if there were Sufficient concrete Elements, and if "Eurofora" really Felt so Strong about that Issue, perhaps, since Journalists are also simple Citizens, we might, eventually, take an Initiative to Lodge a relevant Application to EU Ombudsman ourselves, asap...

 

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+ Already, anOther Lisbon Treaty-related Variant of the project Supported during +20 Years (1997-2017+) by "Eurofora" co-Founder, (Comp., f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/walstrom.html , etc), was to Add to that Radical Innovation which is the EU "Citizens' Initiative" mechanism, (prescribed by Article 11, alinea 4, significantly the Same which also speaks about "Regular Dialogue" with Citizens: Comp. Supra), also a Debate with MEPs and an EU Commission's Representative in EU Parliament, independently of whether that Initiative's concrete Suggestion was going to be Endorsed also by a Commission's Official Proposal for a New EU Legislative Measure, or not:

 

Indeed, this had Not been Foreseen at all by the Treaty, but when "Eurofora" explained the main Reasons for such a Debate to EU Parliament's competent Rapporteur, former Minister for EU Affairs, ChristianDemocrat/EPP, MEP Alain Lamassoure, he found the Idea Interesting and Endorsed it, as well as EU Commissioner Maros Cefcovic, and that Mechanism works like that since then, introducing, for the 1st Time in History, a Cutture and concrete Practice of EU Citizens - EU Decision-Makers Debate inside a New Procedure related with EU's Legislative Process, (See, f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/debatesincitizensinitiatives.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eucitizensinitiativestobeheard.html) , with an Important Potential, which has not yet been fully realized, (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/eucitizensinitiativenewdecisionmaking.html , etc).


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+++ An Other Interesing point was also the Fact that Gadesmann found Plausible that EU Ombudsman could, eventually, use her contacts with the CoE, (Headquartered in Strasbourg, as also O'Reilly's main office), and/or the European Network with National Ombudsmen that has been created since er 1st Predecessor : the 1st EU Ombudsman, Jacob Söderman. (See "Eurofora"'s relevant Publications also at "TCWeekly" and/or "MPAgency", then).


Not only in order to Spread the above-mentioned Ideas, issued from O'Reilly's latest Findings, anounced Today, and Strengthen their Implementation, as far as EU Law is concerned.


But also in order to Discuss these matters with, and eventually influence even a Wider circle, well Beyond EU Law's area, such as PanEuropean CoE's 47 Member States, and/or National Ombudsmen's activities also on National Law cases, (since They Apply Both EU and/or National Laws), Helping to Forge One main Legal Culture across Europe, at least as far as Citizens' participation in Public Authorities' Decision-Making is concerned, (as well as to eventually Exchange "Best Practices" concrete examples, if and where they might exist).


=> Indeed, EU Ombudsman's Press Director revealed to "Eurofora", also for such a purpose, that the Next Annual Conference of European Countries' Ombudsmen Network, (initially created by Sôderman), is due to meet very Soon :


- At the Beginning of "March" 2018, offering, indeed, an opportunity for O'Reilly to eventually Launch such Discussions on her Latest Jurisprudence about EU Citizens, Published Today, also accross a Wider Area, particularly in the context of current and forthcoming debates on European Society's foreseable Future.

 

 

(../..)

 

 

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 (NDLR: Headline PHOTOS = Parlement Européen

+ Patchwork Synthesis = Eurofora)

 

***

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 sarko_merkel_mieux

The official presentation of a "Program" respecting People's choices voted in the June 7, 2009 EU Elections, to be debated in EU Council and EU Parliament during its 1st Session on July in Strasbourg, is the No 1 Priority, according to Democratic principles, for the Franco-German axis, said the main winners at the ballot box, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel.

They stressed  that the New EU Commission's President must have a "Program" in favor of an EU which "protects" its Citizens, regulates financial markets and aims at a "Political" Europe" : a wording they have used as incompatible with Turkey's controversial EU bid.

They also declared ready for a "political" endorsment of "Mr. Barroso's candidacy" in June's EU Council, considering that an official decision would have to be made after EU Parliament's debates and votes, possibly from next month (July), with the legally necessary final acceptance shortly after Lisbon Treaty's entry into force, hoped for September or October.


- "A Program, and Mr. Barroso" : This resumes, in substance, the anouncements made by Sarkozy and Merkel, on the question of current EU Commission's President, Barroso's declared wish to succeed to himself for a second mandate, to be extended during the following 5 years.

 In their 1st meeting after EU Elections, they observed that "the Franco-German axis counted in European Elections' campaign... But, we both keep a realistic view : We saw the number of those who abstained, and we must absolutely give them an answer. We also see the disilusionment of an important number of Europeans vis a vis Europe, and we are aware of the responsibilities we have".

sarko

 - The "Duty" of the new EU Commission's President, after June 7, 2009 EU Elections' result, "is to act for a Europe which protects the Europeans, to commit himself into working for a better Regulation of Financial transactions, ... and to have a Political will for Europe", underlined Sarkozy.

Therefore, "we have asked M. Barroso... to clarify, to officialy present the intentions he has", he anounced.

- "We want to speak also about the Programme", explained Merkel.

- "It's important that for the next EU Parliament's mandate (2009-2014) we take the right Decisions for Europe.  Obviously on Persons, but mainly Decisions on Issues", she stressed.

- "It's not simply a question of a Person, it's also a question of a Programme". We are "really asking Mr. Barroso to commit himself on a Program, and on Principles, on Values", Sarkozy added.

EU President-in-office, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, accepted the Franco-German stance :

- "Barroso must present his Programme. The Czech Presidency agrees with that", Fischer reportedly said later, after meeting Sarkozy.

But Press reports from Brussels claimed that Barroso had preferred to be officially appointed by EU Council since June, (i.e. next week), "because this was implied by the current Treaty of Nice, according to him", and considered any delay until the possible ratification of the new, Lisbon Treaty on September/October, as "undemocratic".

- "At any case, independently of what Germany and France ask, it's also EU Parliament's wish". "We shall propose Mr Barroso's candidacy... But even in the framework of Nice Treaty, EU Parliament has to be associated in this Decision", the French President observed.

If this is correctly done, then "we support Mr. Barroso's candidature", and "if the (EU) Parliament agrees, we might ratify this decision since July", (i.e. next month), they both said.

smerkem_400

- "France and Germany support Baroso's candidacy, But we want to speak also on the Program. We believe that this Program should be established in close cooperation with EU Parliament, and that's why we have followed an appropriate way", said Merkel.  - If EU Parliament wants, this election can take place on July,  but this must be done in full agreement.

- "We shall support Mr. Barroso's candidacy, without doubt", said Sarkozy. "But we have asked from Mr. Barroso, as I told him yesterday, to put into detail.. his intentions, at the eve of his 2nd mandate, if the situation avails itself.


    France and Germany "don't want to take an Official Legal Decision by writting" during "the next (EU) Council" (on June 18-19), declared Sarkozy.  Because they prefer, at this stage, only "a Political decision" on June, "so that we (EU Council) can work together with EU Parliament", which starts to meet only Next Month, since July in Srasbourg, "leaving a Legal decision by writting for later".

    - "If the Conditions are fuillfiled in EU Parliament, we (EU Council) are ready to give the agreement and make it offficial", said Merkel

    - "But, now we are working in the base of Nice Treaty. If tommorow we want to work in the spirit of Lisbon Treaty, we have to find a proper way", she added.

    - "Of course it's Legally complicated, because we are going to make a Political proposal to the forthcoming Council, for an EU Commission's President, on the basis of Nice Treaty : So, we (EU Council) will not appoint the Commissioners. Only the President.  If EU Parliament agrees, it could endorse this position on July", explained Sarkozy.

    But, on Autumn, "if Ireland ratifies Lisbon Treaty, there will be, at any case, a 2nd Decision, to appoint the Commission's President, this time on the basis of Lisbon treaty, and then, we, the EU Member States, would have to appoint (also) the EU Commissioners", he added.

    As for the precise Timing :  - "Everything is suspended until the Irish vote... Now, we must all make everything possible to help Ireland to say "Yes"" to Lisbon Treaty... The Irish Referendum, ..will take place either on September or on October. It's a Question which depends on the Irish. And,  then, we shall have the Choice of the Candidates for the permanent Institutions of Europe".

    However, "if Ireland says No, we, French and Germans, have to assume our responsibilities, and we'll do so", he concluded.

    But British and Swedish governments were reportedly eager to have a final EU Council decision on Barroso since this month, on June's European Council. While the other EU Member Countries are divided, several of them preferring to wait until EU Parliament pronounces itself, on July, and/or until Lisbon Treaty might be ratified by Ireland at the beginning of the Autumn. Barroso's current mandate ends on November.

    There are also various, contradictory and/or unpredictable reactions inside EU Parliament vis a vis Barroso's wish to continue a 2nd mandate, because many MEPs are openly or secretly opposed, reluctant, or hesitating.

    In the biggest EU Countries, as France and Germany, EU Citizens voted on June 2009 EU Elections for a renovated, non-technocratic but Political Europe which cares for its Citizens, with an Identity, Values and Borders, declared incompatible with Turkey's controversial EU bid, by mainstream, pro-European Governing Parties. Similar choices were also supported in several other small or medium EU Countries.

    On the contrary, whenever, in other Countries, Governing and other mainstream Parties didn't make these choices or eluded them, EU Citizens massively voted for euro-Sceptics whenever they were the only ones to to promise anti-bureacratic change and oppose Turkey's demand to enter into the EU, (f.ex. in the UK, Netherlands, etc).

    It's seems to be an Open Question whether Sarkozy and Merkel's conditions will be really accepted by Barroso, who was appointed on 2004 in a different political context, (with Socialist Prime Ministers in Germany, France, etc), had rejected in the Past the idea of EU becoming "equal to the USA" as "ridiculous", and pushed for Turkey's contoversial EU bid, trying to "soften" or contain the changes desired by the People who voted for Merkel and Sarkozy with another policy vis a vis Turkey on 2005 in Germany and on 2007 in France, as they did all over Europe on 2009.

    In addition to many EPP Governments, it's 3 remaining Socialist Prime Ministers : Gordon Brown in the UK, Zapatero in Spain, and Socrates in Prortugal, who support Barroso, as well as Liberal Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt. But their Parties lost the June 2009 EU Elections.

    Questioned whether there was still "Time" for "other" possible "Candidates", Sarkozy and Merkel did not deny, nor made any comment on that, but simply said that "it's not for us to make publicity for any candidates. We anounced our choice ("A Program, and Mr. Barroso"). But we respect any other candidate".

    Among various other names cited are former Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt, former UNO's Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson of Ireland, Italian former EU Commission's vice-President Monti, etc. Meanwhile, Luxembourg's PM Juncker, (who had been unanimously accepted by EU Council for EU Commission's Presidency on 2004, but refused), announced his intention to resign from "EuroGroup"'s Chair. Thus, he might be available for another Top EU job.

    As "EuroFora"'s "opinion" said (See publication dated 9/6/09) : - "If the current candidates (i.e. Barroso, etc) to the Top EU jobs promise and guarantee to respect People's democratic choices, then, it's OK".

"Otherwise, Europe must find new candidates, really motivated and able to implement these democratic choices of the People."

    Because, "in Democracy, the forthcoming choices for EU's Top Jobs,...should be made according to EU Citizens' Votes in June 7, 2009 European Elections, and main EU Governments' strategic policies".
        

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