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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUParliament Liberals'V.Chair Veld to EUroFora: Citizens'Right to Transparency when States Spy+Homes

EUParliament Liberals'V.Chair Veld to EUroFora: Citizens'Right to Transparency when States Spy+Homes

Written by ACM
Thursday, 03 July 2014

*Strasbourg/2+3 July 2014/EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- Experienced EU Parliament's f. Rapporteur on controversial "SWIFT" EU-USA deal, and currently vice-President of the Liberal Group, Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld, replying to an "EurFora"s Question, on the occasion of her succesful ECJ application against EU Council's refusal to communicate a Legal Study on EU -USA "Swift" Agreement Negotiations, sharply stressed that, at times when Governments can Spy via Internet even inside EU Citizens' Homes, it's the least for EU Citizens to have a Right to Transparency of their Governments' activities, particularly when they touch upon Topical and "Hot" issues affecting People's everyday lives, such as "Swift" and other Deals with USA as well as various other 3rd Foreign Countries accross the World.

    EU's Court of Justice, at nearby Luxembourg, found in substance on this Thursday morning that EU Council couldn't, as a matter of General Principle, refuse to unveil such Documents (f.ex. on Financial or Trade, a.o. International Negotiations), unless if such a move was sufficiently Motivated by Specific, relevant and well-founded Arguments, clearly indicating that, in the concrete circumstances of that case, there was a serious Risk to Harm EU's International Relations, to a point that was Excessive and Disproportionate vis a vis the respect due to the Principle of Transparency, (See Infra).

    Vice-President Sophie in't Veld, who hailed Today ECJ's judhement as a boost for a stronger EU Democracy, discussing, well in advance to ECJ's judgement with Journalists, including "EuroFora", earlier at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, had already replied to a relevant, topical Question that we had raised :


     - "EuroFora", speaking  "on the sidelines" of Sophie in't Veld's main purpose now : to support demands for more Transparency from Governments and EU Council, pointed to the fact that," in the latest EU Summit in Brussels, among various other Decisions, there was also an Official Anouncement of EU Heads of State/Government's will, after the recent series of Revelations made since the Snowden affair, which Snow-balled almost everywhere, (including, particularly, Germany and other key EU Countries), as you know, to have in 2015 a Stronger "Data Protection" Legislation in the EU", as we observed from the outset.

    - .Something which "will be obviously a Positive issue for Human Rights, both for Individual Citizens and for Democracy in general, but also an Economic Advantage (for the EU), if it goes well", we noted. => - "How do you feel about that, related to what you've already said on your efforts for EU and Governments' Transparency on Digital data and other issues ?", "EuroFora asked ....



    - "I think that they (EU Citizens' Personal Data Protection and Governments' Transparency) are also 2 Sides of the (same) Coin", she stressed from the outset in her Reply to "EuroFora"s Question.

 - Because, as "it seems, it has recently become possible for Governments to know realy everything, Everything about us !", she warned, i.e. "Anything, every Intimate Detail of our Lives", as she denounced.

    - F.ex., "I mean, when we get to the point, with Brittish Secret Service, is actually Turning On our WebCams with Remote Control", f.ex., "they can really enter in my Home !".

    => -  "Then, I think that Governments should, at least, be Equally Transparent" : i.e. "We (EU Citizens) should Know Everything on our Governments !", Sophie nt'vel concluded, smiling but firmly, as a matter of general Principle, in Reply to "EuroFora"s Question.

    - "So, (EU Citizens') Privacy Protection, and (Government's) Transparency go Together", she stressed.

     - Particularly when, "I get the Feeling", even if "I haven't yet done any Scientific Research into this", "but I do feel that the Governments become more and more Reluctant to be Transparent, very Often, I have to say, Unfortunately, it's under Pressure from the USA", the Top Dutch Libetral MEP topically denounced.

     - "They  give up every time : And that's why this is so Significant : Because, the Transparency is the Rule. There are a couple of brands for Exceptions and exceptions  : One is the Protection of International Relations. But that's a very Vague Formula for me ... So, if the Americans say that, with every piece of information that's being reviewed, that it "Hurts International Relations", then, effectively, they have a VETO, over our (EU's) Transparency record : That's Unacceptable !", she criticized.

    - On the contrary, "We (EU) should have Our own Standards", she strongly advocated. And "that's why this is so relevant that the Judges say :  - "Yes, International Relations are important. Yes , there are Exceptions and exceptions, (to the Principle of Governments' Transparency), but Not Automatically : It has to be Justified, and Specifically", Sophie in't Veld underlined in conclusion.

    => -  "So that, everytime that (EU) Council or Commission decide to Classify Documents as "Secret", they would have to Justify, in what way International Relations might be hurt", if such Infos were made public, she pointed out.


    >>> In that way, even if the ECJ acknowledges the existence of a quite Large Discretionary Power to EU Council on the Substance and the Content of its relevant Decisions, nevertheless,  EuroJudges could always Check the Veracity, Relevance and Sufficiency, as well as the Adequacy and Proportionality, or even the Necessity  of the Factual and/or Legal Arguments presented by EU Governments in reply to EU Citizens' criticism, to which they have, naturally, to be relevant.

    (NDLR : This is a very Promissing, relatively New Area of Judicial Monitoring of Public Administrations' Decisions on the basis of the Rule of Law principles, particularly when there is a wide Discretionary Power f.ex. on Political and/or Economic Governments' policies, that "EuroFora"s Co-Founder had already examined and submitted to a thorough Legal Analysis, from the point of view of Comparaisons between several EU Member Countries' Legal Systems, as early as since the beginning of the 1980ies, initially in a more than 1.000 pages-long, original Study, which received an "A" Grade with 18/20 at Strasbourg University's Faculty of Law, which had chosen it, on a Written Proposal by Paris University I Professor Paul Amselek, in order to present it for a Prize awarded to PhD Thesis. + Later-on "EuroFora" actively participated also to a relevant Conference, organized on March 2010 by the Superior Rhine's (Ober-Rhein's) pole on Public Administration studies (PEEAP), together with Strasbourg's and other Universities, as well as the prestigious "ENA" Higher School for Public Administration Senior Officials in France, the EU and other Countries in the World.


     - But, "they would probably have a Hard Time of doing so....", the experienced many-times EU Parliament's Rapporteur on such thorny issues, joked, in conclusion to her Reply to "EuroFora"s Query, ironically pointing at  some controversial Governments' notoriously excessively negative feelings, as far as Transparency is concerned...

    = > "is everything Crystal-clear and Transparent, now ?", she finaly asked, smiling,  Journalists present in Strasbourg, including "EuroFora".

    Future will tell, rather sooner than later, as it seems : F.ex., among various other concrete examples, currently the 6th round of Talks in EU - USA Negotiations for the conclusion of the 1st Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, is due to be concluded before the End of 2014...



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Facing a 70% Abstention threat in 2009 Election, EU endorses EuroFora's idea for Citizens' debates on crucial EU decisions !

- Different views on "Europe's Future", should be debated among Citizens at June 2009 EU Elections, thanks to political Parties' "Manifestos", says EU Parliament's Report

A main idea, initiated and promoted by EuroFora's founders since 1997: the vital need to develop European Citizens' democratic right to actively participate in multilingual debates on EU decisions, is formally endorsed by the EU from 2009 !

The move is a key attempt to overcome "catastrophic" Polls which warn that only ...30% of Citizens are ready to vote in the forthcoming June 2009 EU Election !  This was revealed by EU Commission's vice-president, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, during a "hot" meeting of EU Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education, during the December 2008 Strasbourg session.

Wallstrom faced criticism, but also suggestions from various MEPs, naturally worried by Abstention threats which herself found even "worse" than in 1999 or 2004...

A Report on "Active Dialogue with Citizens",examined at the same time, presented some useful practical tips, on "facilitating Interviews"; etc., but also a  potentialy important call to "incorporate the conclusions of ...debates...into (EU) policies, and take into consideration the expectations that Citizens have of the EU when deciding". An amendment even implies that Citizens' participation in debates on EU decisions is a democratic "Right".

More importantly, it finds that  a Debate "on the Future of Europe", (as French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked since 2007), would be a good idea " for the 2009 European parliamentary Elections", because "clarifying the political differences between the EU political parties would help citizens to identify themselves with, and choose between various concepts", for which "all parties (should) present their Manifesto".

A "Joint political declaration on Communicating Europe in Partnership", co-signed by "the European Parliament, Council and ... Commission", confirms that they "attach the utmost importance to improving communication on EU issues", by "enabling European citizens to exercise their right to participate in the democratic life of the Union, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizens, observing the principles of pluralism, participation, openness and transparency".

This should "enable Citizens to exercise their right to express their views and to participate actively in the public Debate on European Union issues", while also "promoting the respect of multilingualism". In this regard, EU confirms its "wish to develop synergies with national, regional and local authorities as well as with representatives of Civil Society".

    It's since 1997 that a group of EuroFora's founders have officially presented a pioneer Project (then called "EIW", for "Europe in the World"), which aimed to develop Strasbourg's "Polyphonic music", by providing "Interactive information", on "main issues ... during the Decision-making process of European Organizations which engage in Transparent and Public Democratic Debates"

    This should be done, inter alia, by "exploring the potential of New Communication Tools (mainly Internet)", as well as classic-form debates, the 1997 EIW pioneer project's anounced in its "Synopsis". It was formally "accepted for evaluation" by EU Commission in Brussels in order to be examined for a grant in the framework of the "Research/Technology/Development (RTD) Programme in the field of Information Technologies", then called "ESPRIT", as a "Best Practice Pilot Project".


        But the vital, urgent Political need for EU to search new, efficient ways to reach the People and interact with European Citizens, was really felt in Brussels and elsewhere only after the unprecedented in History 1999 and 2004 Majority Abstention in EU Elections, followed by 3 "NO" in Referenda in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, on 2005 and 2008...
    In this New Political Landscape, we prepared a new, actualised and more developed version of our initial idea, in a simplified and more efficient form, thanks also to a large Experience accumulated during many years of EU/CoE/UNO Press work and Multi-lingual debates, with the New project "EuroFora" :

    On 2006 we presented in Public its main lines during Questions/Replies that we raised at two Press Conferences by EU Commission President, Jose Baroso, and mainly EU Commission's vice-President, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, together with EU Parliament's vice-president, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, in Strasbourg, (Videos available), and we reminded it at various brief contacts with Commissioner Wallstrom in 2007 and 2008.

    Meanwhile, a new Text was also presented for "EuroFora" Project mainly to certain Political and other personalities, at European, National or Regional/Local level, mainly in 2007, but also in 2008..

    Now, after the unexpected 2008 Irish "NO", and before the 2009 EU Elections, which are due to be of exceptionally crucial importance for Europe's Future, the moment has obviously come to launch that project, progressively, but in real practice.

    Whoever really cares for Europe and its Citizens is welcome to join, in one way or another. Only anti-European, anti-democratic, obscure or ignorant groups might oppose or attempt to "steal" and deviate the main idea.

    But European Citizens, incited by enlightened political leaders, are those who will finally write the real History.


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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