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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUParliament Head Sassoli to EF on EU Future: Yes Citizens WebFora. No United Forum+Full Dialogue ?

EUParliament Head Sassoli to EF on EU Future: Yes Citizens WebFora. No United Forum+Full Dialogue ?

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 15 January 2020

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*Strasbourg/EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- Speaking with "Eurofora" since Tuesday, at the Eve of MEPs' Vote for a landmark Resolution on Europe's Future Conference (2020-2021), EU Parliament's President, David Sassoli, clearly Highlighted, adding a Bright Smile, his acceptance of EU Citizens' Web Fora on Europe's Future, in view of the Forthcoming Conference of 2020-2022, according to Our Wider Project about Digital Public Debates with Politicians Before important Decisions are taken, (Comp., among others, also, f.ex.: ..., etc).

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+This Point was Confirmed also by the Experienced EU Parliament's Press/Communications' Director and Spokesman, Jaume Duch, referring later "Eurofora" also to a relevant Draft Text tabled by 5 Mainstream Political Groups, (EPP, Soc., ReNew, Greens, Left), which Adds quite a lot in this Direction, (See Infra).

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However, these Welcome Moves do Not Yet go as far as to create a United and Permanent EU Citizens' Forum for that purpose, (not even during this 2020-2022 Conference), Neither a fully-fledged Dialogue between EU Citizens and Politicians Before Decisions, as "Eurofora"s project has advised, (even if some Steps were made in this regard, particularly thanks to the Last-Minute Adoption, in Wednesday's Votes, of a relevant Amendment : See Infra)...

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- Indeed, the Adopted EU Parliament's Resolution stresses from the outset that, as a matter of Principle, "this Conference process Should be an Occasion to closely involve EU Citizens in a Bottom-Up exercise, in which they are Listened to, and their Voices contribute to the Debates on the Future of Europe".


Also Because "there is a Need for EU Institutions to ReConnect with the Citizens", by "Facilitating (such) a Debate", "as the EU has ... become ...Remote from the Citizens", criticized a Draft Resolution tabled by the Conservatives/Reformists.


=> For that Purpose, inter alia, it's, in Addition, "a Listening Phase" which "should be initiated" "Prior to the launch of the Conference process", in order  to enable Citizens, from Across the EU, to express their Ideas, make Suggestions and propose their own Vision of what Europe means for them", the Adopted Resolution asks.


+ In this regard, "the Conference is an Opportunity ...to engaging Directly with Citizens in a meaningful Dialogue", where "Consultations should be organised using the most efficient, Innovative and appropriate Platforms, including OnLine tools (f.ex. Web Fora, etc), and should reach All parts of the EU, in order to guarantee that Any citizen can have a Say".

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But How exactly it should be Organized in this Conference for Europe's Future and relevant Deliberations, ...that's anOther Story !


F.ex., the Rightist MEPs of "ID" Group claimed, in their Draft Resolution, that "the most Effective, Fair and Indisputable way of involving the Citizens ... is Direct Democracy" !,  ("in particular, the use of Referendums")...


Nevertheless, Despite Ancient Greek Civilisation's charm and that of Switzerland's Nowadays, French President Macron's landmark Speech at Acropolis' Historic "Pnyx" Rock since 9/2017, "Pirate" Parties' recent breakthrough, and/or Contemporary Internet's Facilitation capacities, (etc), Nobody seriously suggested to Skip from InDirect to Direct Democracy in Europe now...


The Focus obviously is on EU Citizens' participation to the Decision-Making Process, mainly via Public Debates before final Decisions, along "Eurofora" Project's lines.


>>> But it still remains Restricted in Narrow margins, Not Yet Reaching its fully-fledged Dimension, at least as things stand until now :


- Thus, while EU Parliament's Resolution urges to create "a Plenary" Body for MEPs, Representatives of EU Council, EU Commission, National Parliaments, etc., due to work at EU-Level during All the process of the Conference for Europe's Future, Dealing with All its main aspects, taken Together, EU-Wide, (etc),


on the Contrary, Nothing Similar has been still foreseen for EU Citizens ! They are Divided, from the outset, into Various Thematic "Citizens' Agoras" with about 200-300 Different Members each, (a Wording Meaning "Speech" or ..."Market", in Ancient Greek ...), concerning only some Specific Issues, and being held at Various Locations.

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Since EU Citizens are Not considered, ipso facto, as Members of a Decision-making Body, (contrary to Direct Democracy etc.: Comp. Supra), Neither are they Elected to such a Collective Body, the remainining Question is how they are Otherwise "Selected", in order to eventually participate in any such Bodies :


- A very Large Majority in EU Parliament leaned towards "Pollster"-like Methods of ascertaining the "Representativity" of Selected EU Citizens, considering f.ex. their Age, Gender, Education, Job, Origin, etc., compared to the Average of the concerned Population, in relation to which they should be well "Balanced".


That "Selection" should be made by some (UnDefined) "Independent Institutions", and ..."Randomly", as it was Stressed by a Last-Minute Amendment, (Tabled by the "ReNew" and "Green" Groups), Adopted by EU Parliament on Wednesday.

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=> But the Most Important point obviously is what happens to the Outcome, i.e. the Conclusions of EU Citizens' verdict or views, inside a Public Decision-Making process.  


- It's naturally Good, from a Pluralist Democracy point of view, that "a Minority Opinion can be Voiced", (whenever the EU Citizens' Agoras canNot find an "Agreement by Concensus"), as the adopted Resolution says.


- However, Public Debate, Exchange of Arguments, and Vote by Majority being traditionaly the Cradle of Democratic Decision-Making, it's Difficult to Understand why that Resolution pushes aside Majority Decisions among EU Citizens, Obliging them to Focus, instead, Only on "Seeking to Find Agreement by Concensus" !


+ Moreover, it's Regrettable that a very Important Amendment, on the Key Issue of Democratic "Pluralism", Supported by 341 MEPs and almost 5 Political Groups, (in an Exceptional Unity of All the Right : mainstream "ChristianDemocrats/EPP", "Conservatives/Reformists", "ID" Rightists, as well as the "Left", and most "Independents", a few Socialists, etc), was finaly Droped, Only because of a Tiny Difference of just One (1) Vote : 341 to 342, (with 15 Abstentions)...


According to that Draft Amendment, "in all public Consultations related to the (Future of Europe) Conference process" ("Meetings", "Opinion Polling", "Social Media engagement initiatives", etc), Pluralism must be ensured" : I.e. "all Programmes, Speakers lists, Panels, Literature and Documents, etc. must be Balanced, and ensure that a great Variety of Differing Viewpoints is presented, reflecting the Diversity of Opinions in Europe, in order to Stimulate a profound Debate", as it stressed.


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>>> Now, concerning the Heart of the Matter : I.e. the Fate reserved to EU Citizens' Viewpoints inside the Future of Europe Conference, the adopted EU Parliament's Resolution simply speaks about a so-called "FeedBack Loup", where "the Conclusions" of "Thematic Agoras" (Comp. supra) of "Citizens and Youth", will be "Presented" to "the Conference Plenary" (Comp. Supra), by some "Representatives" of those "Agoras", "in order to ...Discuss" them with participating MEPs, EU Commissioners, Ministers, etc.


Nothing, or Few things were, Initially, said about What kind of "Discussion" this UnPrecedented collective Meeting, (obviously Crucial for the Future of Europe Conference's Success), might or should be...


EU Parliament's Draft Resolution had Only asked for "a Minimum of 2 Meetings of Each (Citizens or Youth) Thematic Agora, in order to Provide INPUT for the Conference Plenary, and Receive Global FEEDBACK (sic !) on the Deliberations" : This last point should be dealt with "in anOther Meeting, in DIALOGUE Format", it said, (using a potentialy Interesting, but still Vague expression).


+ At this point, a useful Last-Minute Amendment, (tabled by MEPs Paulo Rangel, vice-President of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group, and Gabriele Bischof, Chair of the Workers' Group in CESE), Added that EU Citizens' (agoras') "conclusions" should "be TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT during the Deliberation in the Conference

Plenary", (Comp. Supra).


=> How Far can this go ? Could this Result into a Real "Dialogue" between EU Citizens and EU Institutions Before Decisions affecting People's Lives and/or Society at large, as "Eurofora"s Project (2006-2020) pleads for, (since it was Initially presented during an EU Parliament's Press Conference, together with the EU Commissioner and EU Parliament's vice-President in charge of Medias, as Early as already back on 2006 in Strasbourg) ?


In Fact, that "EuroFora"'s Project is Inspired by Both an Original, Pioneer Analysis of main points in Public Administrative Law, concerning developments on the Public Decision-Making Process, at Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Greece, etc., (at First Published in a Legal Research of more than 1.000 pages, chosen by the University of Strasbourg for a Prize destinated to PhD. Thesis, after a written Proposal by Professor Paul Amselek, of Paris II University, already since the Beginning of the 1980ies), and a Collective Project by European Journalists, Universitarians, EU Media Officers, etc, (that we Coordinated): "EIW", which was officially Accepted by EU Commission in Brussels in order to be examined in the framework of the Program "ESPRIT", for the Utilisation of Modern Communication Technologies in Innovative Activities in nowadays Society (1997). After the Creation of "EuroFora", back on 2007 (Comp. Supra), it was Highlighted also on the sidelines of a landmark 3 Days Conference organized at the University of Strasbourg by Dean Florence Benoit-Rohmer on 2010, Discussed also in the City of Strasbourg's Collective Meetings on Citizens' Participation between 2017-2019, proposed to COE's "World Forum of Democracy" forthcoming "Labos", (under the name "4 G" Project, for "Digital Dialogue in Democratic Decision-Making"), since 2019, and is part and parcel of a "Doctorat d'Etat" Research prepared under the Direction of President Jean Waline for publication after 2020.


- In Practice, the Main points are Public Administration's Obligation to Timely Warn Citizens about its Forthcoming Decisions which affect their Lives and/or Society at large, Collect their eventual Observations on that, and Reply to them, with a Correct, Legal, and Sufficient Motivation, well Before they Decide, withOut showing any Abuse, (under Supervision by a Judge), while keeping its own, more or less, Discretionary Power to Decide on the Substance of the issues at stake.

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Even if French President Emmanuel Macron recently declared, in his Press Conference on the conclusions of the latest, December 2019 EU Summit in Brussels, (Comp. "Eurofora"s NewsReports from the spot, f.ex., at: ..., etc), that IF any EU Treaty Change might, eventually, be Needed, particularly for Citizens' role in Europe's Future, then, he would be "Ready" to Advance in this direction, nevertheless, the current "Lisbon Treaty", (which just celebrated its 10th Anniversary), has already Provided for the necessary Legal Tools, including f.ex. Article 11 for "Regular" "Dialogue", between EU "Citizens"/Civil Society and EU "Institutions"on the "Acts" they take, (etc).


As for MEPs - Citizens relations, in fact, in the current context of EU Lisbon Treaty, they are far Away from being in Competition between them, f.ex. about Direct or Representative Democracy, etc : On the Contrary, there is often an interesting Potential for Cooperation and Solidarity among them !


- F.ex., if "Eurofora" Project is systematically applied, with MEPs-Citizens Debates Before Decisions, (i.e. at the Eve of each Plenary Session), then, one among its Consequences, would naturaly be the Augmentation of Medias' Interest for EU Parliament's subsequent activities, during its Plenary Session which follows, whose Press impact would grow...


+ Moreover, the alleged "Lack of Legislative Initiative" for MEPs nowadays, (one among the Issues expected to be discussed during the Future of Europe's Conference), seems, in Fact, to be either a Myth, at least partially, or a Self-Inflicted Wound, which could be easily Dissipated, in real Practice, if MEPs Started to Systematically use (and, therefore, Simplify) Lisbon Treaty's EU "Citizens Initiative", in order to Oblige the EU Commission to table the Draft Bills that they want ! Indeed, even the Smallest Political Group inside EU Parliament, (f.ex. that of the "Left", or "Greens", "ECR", etc), can Easily find at least 1 Million of its Fans in order to Sign a Topical Bill of interest to their own Party, among more than 512 Millions of Europeans (i.e. less than 1 out of 510)... And things could become much more Easier if they were Methodically Organized, and Often Used.


So that EU Citizens and MEPs can Become Allies for More and Better Democracy in the foreseable Future.

 


(.../...)


("Draft-News")


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Sarkozy and Merkel want deals with Obama on European Security at Strasbourg's NATO 2009 Summit

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In parallel but concording moves, EU Chair, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel both invited this week US-President elect, Barack Obama, to discuss important deals breaking new ground on European Security during the NATO's 60 Years Anniversary Summit of Heads of State in Strasbourg, where Obama is expected to make his 1st visit to Europe as a President on April 2009.

Merkel focused mainly on smoother NATO - EU Defence and Security policy cooperation, while Sarkozy spoke about PanEuropean Security, associating both Russia and the USA, proposing to freeze missile and shields' deployement until an agreement is reached.

But both tackled some hard nuts to crack : Turkey's VETO against the participation of EU Member Cyprus to EU-NATO cooperation, and Russia's anouncement on deployment of missiles up to Kaliningrad, at EU's belly, in reply to USA's wish to set up missile shields in EU States such as Poland or Czech Republic, etc.


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- "Certainly...one of the points that we'll dicuss with the New US President", Barak OBAMA, "who will come f'or the 1st time in Europe as president, at the NATO Summit", co-hosted by France and Germany in Strasbourg, ""concerns, above all, the European Security and Defence Policy" (ESDP), and "the relations between NATO and its partners", with whom it should "work together", anounced earlier this week Merkel.

We must find "a reasonable and adequate concept to articulate NATO and European Security and Defense policy", because of a "series of practical issues, sometimes difficult to understand", but that "we must discuss".

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- "An example" of that is "the issue of Cyprus and Turkey", said Merkel, where Ankara raises problems "from Kosovo up to Afghanistan", as also CoE's chair, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt recently observed in Strasbourg replying to EuroFora's questions.

- "We must do something to smoothen this problem for good, and not only on a case-by-case basis, laboriously negotiated each time". Here, we must find "a reasonable and adequate concept to articulate NATO and European Security and Defense policy", Merkel stressed.

- "With good will from all sides, it could and should be posible. Germany wants also to help on that". Otherwise, "the coming generations will not understand why it took Decades to do so". But, if we "don't even achieve that for Decades, this would be an Historic Failure !", the German Chancellor warned

- "I think that our American partners are increasingly realizing that", Merkel said, pleading for "a stronger European Security and Defence policy, with which, I believe, the Atlantic Security Partnership can also strengthen and solidify".

Meanwhile, USA is also due to take in 2009 a special status inside EU-led EUROCORPS, the European Army HeadQuarters, based in Strasbourg.

Merkel said that after meeting in Berlin with NATO's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, earlier this week, precisely in order to "prepare NATO's Summit", scheduled for the beginning of April 2009 in Strasbourg.

Scheffe, knows well Strasbourg, since he chaired the CoE, as Holland's Foreign Minister, when he brokered a controversial deal precisely on Turkey and Cyprus about the implementation of ECHR judgements on Greek Cypriot displaced persons' houses and properties in 2003. He returned later at least once, for a WEO meeting at the CoE, where he precisely had highlighted such EU - NATO issues.

EU Commission's 2008 Report on Turkey has just observed that, on European Defense - Security policy, "Turkey continues to object to EU-NATO Cooperation which would involve all EU Member States". "This created Problems for EU-NATO co-operation in the context of Civilian ESDP missions, in particular in Kosovo and Afghanistan".
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 French EU Chair, President Sarkozy and Merkel are visiting Washington on Friday and Saturday for a Global G-20 Summit with current US President George Bush, on the sidelines of which are expected preparatory contacts with US President-elect Obama's entourage, even if himself might stay in Chicago until he takes over on January 21.

Before going to Washington, Sarkozy concluded today an UE - Russia Summit with Dmitry Medvedev, where they "spoke in length on PanEuropean Security" :

- As EU President, I proposed that we meet on mid-2009 in a framework such as OSCE's in order to set the foundations of a Future Pan-European Security, which would associate Russia and USA, and that, meanwhile, nobody speaks about deploying missiles or shields, which complicate the situation".

- NATO's Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl, on April 2009 is a perfect occasion to discuss with our American friends and to prepare a possible OSCE Summit for these issues f.ex. for June or July", Sarkozy concluded.

- We must all abstain from Unilateral measures" dangerous for Europe's security. "Russia only reacted to decisions taken by some other countries. But if they are ready to cooperate, we are ready to discuss. EU could be an intermediary", added Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, before going himself too at the Washington G-20 Economic Summit.

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