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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?

Parašė ACM
Tuesday, February 13, 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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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?

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