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Haupt 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?

Geschrieben von 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"+).

 

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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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    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).

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    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
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    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..

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    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.


But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".

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In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )


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