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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

 eu_parliament_president_sassoli_2020_speech_to_press__agg_eurofora_400


*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).

eu_parliaments_president_sassoli__agg_eurofora_400 

+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).

eu_parliament_comm._director_duch__agg_2020_press_meet._eurofora_400 

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)...

ep_vote_on_europe_future_conference_eurofora_screennshot_400 

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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".

------------------------------------------------

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.

---------------------------------------------


=> 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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ECHR's President to "EuroFora" on Journalists Gongadze and Adali murders : Principles must apply to all States, without discrimination.


+ ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression (See below).


 European Court of Human Rights' President, Jean-Paul Costa, questioned by "EuroFora" on Journalists' murders, as in Gongadze and Adali's cases etc., strongly stressed all CoE Member States' obligation to make efficient Investigations to find and punish those responsible, and underlined that ECHR's case-law's principles must apply to all without any discrimination.

His call was clearly supported by various Top MEPs who denounced a risk of "Double Standards" if some Journalists' murders are investigated, while others don't.

To avoid such risks, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a Resolution, on the occasion of Ukranian Journalist Gongadze's murder, "stressing", as a matter of general Principle, "the importance it attaches to the safety of Journalists and political activists, especially those linked to opposition groups, in ALL member states of the CoE". All "crimes against journalists and political activists must be investigated ... as a matter of priority, without political interference".

Costa was replying to "EuroFora"s question on the fact that, after CoE's Committee of Ministers, also CoE's Assembly had just adopted a Resolution on Gongadze murder case, based on an ECHR's judgement of 2005, asking a full Investigation from Ukraine, who has found and condemned  in 10 years of jail 2 executants, but not yet the instigators.

While nothing similar was yet done for dissident Turkish Cypriot Kutlu Adali's murder, with 5 bullets shot at his head out of his Family's home in the territories of Cyprus occupied by Ankara's army, despite another ECHR's judgement of the same year 2005, and despite Turkey's claim that nobody was found among those responsible for the murder, and that there was nothing more to do..

In order to be credible and efficient, CoE's mechanisms shouldn't find a way to at least ask for full investigations of all Journalists' murders anywhere they might be committed, without exceptions ?

adali_gongadze


- "On the larger question that you raised, I'd like to say, since we are in a period of stock-taking on ECHR's 50 Years, that the Court's case-law developed certain concepts ....such as the Positive obligations of States, part of which are also the procedural obligations", started to reply ECHR's President.

 - "Whenever Journalists, Lawyers, Defenders of Human Rights, or even simple Citizens are murdered, the States are held responsible, not only if its their own security forces' agents who committed these murders, but also if they didn't make sufficiently substantial and efficient Investigations", he stressed.

- "I want to strongly underline that we (ECHR) have found in many cases numerous violations of Articles 2 and 3 against States, ....(about) murders or torture, ...because they didn't make enough Investigations in order to try to find and punish those responsible".

- "We (ECHR) do that vis-a-vis all 47 (CoE) Member States, without any discrimination".

"Naturally, the circumstances in each particular case may be differend, and we can't ommit to apply the rules of proof, or the rules of criminal procedure".

"But we try, by all means, to apply these principles of our case-law, to all States", he concluded.

imag0335_400


      Costa's call was strongly supported by several Top CoE MEPs, from various Political areas


- "To investigate the murder of one Journalist, and not of another, looks like Double Standards", denounced the President of EuroLeft Group in CoE's Assembly, Dutch MEP Tiny Cox.  

- "What is the reason ? Politics or specificity of a case ? Of course, if Cyprus and Turkey are involved, it's always a Political case"..

- "Murders of Journalists should always be fully investigated, because killing Journalists is not only killing persons, but also killing Free Press".  "We (CoE's Assembly) should do our outmost to help People who are working on Free Press and they are under threat or murdered".

Because for Free Politics, Free Press is a pre-requisitive : Parliamentarians  cannot  function without a Free Press. Not investigating, is not protecting ourselves".

So we should investigate all Journalists' murders : We are talking about Gongadze, about the Cypriot man (Adali), about the Journalist murdered in Moscow one week ago, etc", Cox concluded

- "CoE can' look at these cases differently. CoE can't wear Blinckers  !".
- "If the one is investigated, so has to be also the other. Why there wasn't full investigation ? Why's that ?", wondered British  Socialist MEP, Alan Meale.

- "A good idea" would be to "make a Motion for Resolution", and "join all Journalists' murders. Adali and Gongadze etc", said to "EuroFora" EU Parliament Political affairs Committee's President, Goran Lindbland, ChristianDemocrat MEP from Sweden.


(See also earlier News at "EuroFora" on similar issues).
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ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression :


    Almost Half of condemnations by ECHR for violations of Freedom of Expression in 2008, concern Turkey : 20 out of a total of 48 for all CoE's Member States.

    Russia, Poland, France and Moldova were condemned only 3 times. Romania, Greece, Portugal, 2 times, and the other CoE Member States only 1 time, or none.
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    During the last Decade : 1998 - 2008, Turkey was condemned for violating Freedom of Expression in ..169 cases, while Austria only in 24.

    France and Moldova in 14 and 13, respectively, closely followed by Russia and Poland with 11 and 10, respectively. The rest of CoE Member States had less than ten condemnations.    
    

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