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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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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

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