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Inicio 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?

Escrito por ACM
13.02.18
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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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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
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    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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