EU: Just a scapegoat?
The European Parliament reclaims a greater role for the Ombudsman (13 – 11 – 2009)
In 2008 cases of maladministration, involving the EU institutions and bodies, have led to a report about the figure of the Ombudsman. The role was created in 1995 to raise citizens’ complaints. In January 2010 the European Parliament will elect the new European Ombudsman, among the candidates there is also an Italian, Vittorio Bottoli.
Deputies adopted Chrysoula Paliadeli report (Group of Socialists and Democrats), in which they require a better understanding of rights for common people, so that complaints relating to Community authorities may have more concrete answers.
Parliament proposes to unify all the online initiatives of information coming from the various EU institutions to ensure a better access for citizens. Another theme that is highlighted is the lack of information about the network of ombudsmen, which also has functions of guarantee.
Today the skills of investigative players, such as the Ombudsman, are limited and this strongly undermines the possibility that complaints get to obtain something concrete (in addition to the lack of information made available to the person on the road on these issues) therefore most remarkable proposal, expresses by the European Parliaments, is the enforcement of the Ombudsman’s purposes .
Complaints in 2008 at the European level were 3406 compared to 3211. This increase indicates an improvement in awareness, but also the existence of problems of transparency in all EU sectors. The proportions follow in perfect order the weight of the institutions involved: income before the Commission, long after the Parliament, then the various specific Community offices.
The pace of investigations has increased, the half ended in less than a year but, for 228 cases declared admissible, there were no sufficient evidences to initiate an investigation.
Community looks at Balkans ( 15 – 10 – 2009)
In 2010 Community Institutions will bring to completion a significant liberalization of visas granted to citizens of the closest east to Italy. Today the Commission adopted the annual strategy on enlargement, highlighting the progress of the Western Balkans. It was decided to recommend an opening accession negotiations with Macedonia, but, above all, in 2010 there will be a significant liberalization of visas.
Olli Rehn, Commissioner for Enlargement, said: “In this difficult context of economic crisis, the Albania and Montenegro request of membership underlines the constant EU power of attraction and our role in promoting stability.” In 2010 the main point will be the visa exemption for citizens coming from former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. A similar proposal for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina will follow, unless they meet necessary conditions.
Rehn, talking about Turkey, said that the Asian country has renewed its commitment to political reform and he underlined how the progress in the accession negotiations depends on news in the field of rights. If the importance of normalization in Turkish and Armenian relations is true, it should be the same for the respect of the Kurdish political rights. Is to be hoped that Europe will not neglect its tradition for the respect of human rights because of strategic considerations that, so far, have impacted negatively on the Kurdish question. This case has been memorable not only for the left wing, which has, in Italy, highlighted it until its end, but it was important also for all Europeans if, as such, we want to clarify the basic human rights for all of us and on which we can not withdraw.
Thanks to a reorder of public administration, judicial system and an agreement with Slovenia, Croatia is doing very well in the achieving of parameters. Negotiations should be completed next year. While Montenegro has asked to join EU in December 2008 the Commission, as required by EU Council, is preparing an opinion. It seems, however, that it will be positive because of the respect of international standards during political elections. Now it just remains to enforce the rule of law.
Albania has applied for membership in April and elections have been sufficiently regular. To join EU, Bosnia Herzegovina must significantly accelerate reforms: Bosnian political class has not a shared vision of qualifications required by the Commission.
Serbia has cooperated with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, but hasn’t had a clear attitude in the internal matters of Kosovo, where the EULEX mission is operating all over the Country. The crime and the lack of protection of Serb Minority represent a concrete obstruction in the chaotic Kosovo.
The Commission, approaching Kosovarian citizens to EU, has elaborated in a separate document (providing a dialogue on visas and opening a perspective of a trade agreement) a series of actions that will see the light only after the achievement of the set conditions.
Today, the Treaty of Lisbon at the European Parliament ( 25 – 11 – 2009 )
The eighteen deputies coming from the twelve member States that are added to the current 736 are only the most obvious change, because they will enter physically the Chamber. The most important thing that gives political weight in favor of the popular representation in Europe is the increase, in the legislative powers, of the European Parliament. Assembly stops being a formal institution and begins to operate as a place where the sovereignty of the European people reclaims a role on decisions.
The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon will make, almost all European policies, subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, so that European Union Council and Parliament will have the same importance, whereas before the Council, seat of the meeting between the Governments of the States, prevailed. Now the European Parliament has the same powers than the Council when it comes to decide on the EU budget.
Speaker David Martin, member of the UK socialist and democrats group and representative of a Country too often unfairly labeled as distant from the nucleus of the “euro-convinced”, looks enthusiastic. Martin said that with the Single European Act Europe has begun to grow and Treaties of Nice and Amsterdam have taken it to the adulthood. The Treaty of Lisbon represents the completion of this process.
Still in today’s plenary session even closer decisions to current business have been approved. For example the European Parliament has called to establish a mandatory indication about the provenance for textiles, clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and furniture imported from countries outside UE, in order to enable consumers to identify the social, environmental and safety standards of manufacture. This situation will, even, ensure a greater competition with those countries that have already adapted these standards.
And it’s worth adding that the European Parliament, as a place representing the inhabitants of the continent, should begin to be interested also about the barbarous treatment reserved to animals in a variety of economic and production processes, from medical research to marketing products, with standards less indifferent to the suffering of the species involved, compared to current standards, and often disregarded.
Vàclav Havel sums up battles for freedom in Europe (12 – 11 – 2009)
Vàclav Havel more than a man is a name; for most part of European who know the story represents the symbol of the long walk for rights and freedom in the part of Europe (East) where they were not contemplated. Jerzy Buzek, European Parliament president, presented the writer and dramatist as an element that has unified all normal persons opposed to regimes. He was president from 1993 to 2003 right after the fall of the regime he has fought.
Havel has reminded how the end of the transition from totalitarianism to democracy was not something obvious, because nationalists could have take over. Also for this reason the former Czech president invited European Parliament to avoid the risk that European Union became a player able to treat with the negation of human dignity but collects the needs of those who are going on in the battle for the protection of rights in Burma, Iran, Byelorussia and in more other Countries.
“Europe is the homeland of our Countries and I’m feeling European without renounce my identity”, Vàclav Havel declared. Basically most of the speech of the former dissident was focus on the necessity to skip economical politics and go on with the promotion of the European culture peculiarities. These peculiarities include the religions, which have participated in the construction of the common sense of the Continent, and those deep-rooted since the Enlightenment.
More attention should be taken also in the contact between economy and ideals. If is true, as international print yesterday reported, that half of the Bulgarian population has nostalgia for past times, this does not allow the justification of brutal regimes and inefficient systems. It must underlines the necessity of guaranty also for social rights and cooperation, needed also for the cohesion of Countries which were part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Try to surpass past trough a disproportionate liberalism has showed all its dramatic limits emerged with several tensions, even military in the Balkans, and with the worrying exploit of far Right in last European elections.
The European model, as such, is a unique episode of integration that can survive the barren celebration of its own institutional forms only if it founds a new way to be part of inspiration for the rest of the world giving answers to the necessity of freedom coming from the areas of the planet relating with us.
The Czech politician touched a crucial point when he reclaimed the role of the European Parliament in this process, because it’s the only elected organ. So a better debate would be desirable on the democratization of structures, European politics and on the necessity that people find a direction for the communication of its own political agenda to EU.
Where Europe is green (03-09-2009)
The Irish answer to the newer ending debate on European Union institutional problems, which have occupied all news in the last months and running around the accuse of anti-Europeanism, is a “yeses” made by sixty-seven of thirty-tree. Probably the executive of the next door Country, Great Britain, will also give a similar answer. It doesn’t matter if Cameron will come or Gordon will stay, because English people already gave a positive answer to Europe in the seventies, when they paid the agricultural aid needed only by the Continent.
When in the afternoon clear scores could be managed, in Ireland there were places such as Kildare and Tipperary, where the yeses had reached seventy per cent. While even where the nays have won, places such as Donegal close to Ulster where the Sinn Fein (which fought against the Treaty) has its strongholds, had no more than two percentage points.
Can we properly give credit to the general way of approach, coming from southern Europe, which believes the stories about fear of a consequences of a negative vote?
Should it not be more fair recognize the trends of Ireland, Denmark, Holland and England, defined as “euro-Sceptical,” actually representing instances of population groups that maybe Knows better than other Countries what it means to be a Community?
Citizenship of all these Countries, if included in the effort to build a Europe able to give the chance to participate to everyone, is the most enthusiastic and loyal in the support of a project, the European Union, which is reasonably the only one able to challenge with those Countries, extremely rising, but that beyond hypocrisy, are not all democrats (for examples China is not and about Russian Federation there are reasonable doubts).
Swedish presidency of European Union, with its prime minister Fredrik Reinfeld, understood a central aspect of the matter, stating that European Union has been successful in its efforts to promote the Treaty because it heard giving assurance when required. “This is the European cooperation at its best and Ireland’s accession will make it more clear”, Reinfeld said (leader of center right coalition in Sweden).Swedish Prime Minister, also EU Presiding Officer, will send Thursday Cecilia Malmstrom, Minister of European affairs, to Czech Republic, where the position of the Head of State, Waclav Klaus, still hinders Treaty’s final step.
Reinfeld has been informed that Lech Kaczynsky, Polish President, will sign soon. An agreement, without any unspoken reservations on the Union’s future shape, is what our Europe needs to go on and accept those States that have just requested to be part of the project and whose role (in the cultural and historical completion of the project), is clearly visible. Let’s just think about Iceland.
Europe of fences sinks Tony Blair (16-10-2009)
With the extension of the mandate and its powers, the European Presidency is becoming “heavier”. So far, Tony Blair was the favourite, but it looks like that this is going to change. Sarkozy, president of one of the most centralist Countries in the Community, explained that the UK non-adoption of Euro is a problem. Around European offices the eyes of the Nations are watching, but above all, there are the conceptions of Europe and of groups of different powers ready to play.
Today Reuters made public the contents of a document attributed to Belgium and Luxemburg, plus Austria; summarizing it is not on favour of a politician coming from a Country hasn’t accepted all conditions required by EU. Is the opt out, that allows a Country to remain outside of a decision without obstructing, something perfectly regular inside the Community, isn’t it? In a situation like this, rightly direct to a reduction of the commissioners number, as a sign of a non-overlap between Nations and representatives (because politicians in charge represent all Europe and not only the State of provenance), sustain that someone is not eligible because he is English it’s incredible not only from a political point of view but, also, from the heart of the matter.
The action of Belgium and Luxemburg, defending their own interests inside the Community is perfectly lawful, as a matter of fact, they sustain the candidature of Jean-Claude Juncker a candidate who has seen – not without any reason by the members of East – as a representative not only of a federalist but, above all, of a continental – occidental block kept in the oldest nucleus of the Community. Tony Blair is not neither Roosevelt nor Gandhi, but even if we don’t have to like him, because of his exceedingly free trade policy, sustain that English economy was worst before than now is something that doesn’t match with reality ( the Bolkestein directive – liberalizing price of labour supply in the services sectors – was not approved in the beginning of 2004 by liberalist English man. The approval came from the Commission of Romano Prodi who is an Italian belonging to a coalition having, in that time, hints of attention to social matters. Many people in Italy voted for Prodi and probably now we will do it again. But why do we tell each other stories of ancient memory about liberalization leaders do not love the Continent and centralist – socialization leaders who love it?).
Social action, especially in complex reality such as European Institutions and so now the attention of EU countries particularly the elites leading them, is focus on candidates likely to be elected president of the Community. Let’s have a look. Particularly prestigious is the Paavo Lipponen candidature, coming from a left wing tradition really focus on the “existence” of citizens. Lipponen was Prime Minister of Finland and he became Prime Minister because he led to success a big social democratic party that has an effective inclination for majority system and represents sectors of workers. Paavo Lipponen was Prime Minister in his Country from 1995 to 2003.
Another candidate is the current Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peeter Balkenende. He belongs to the center right wing of Christian Democratic Dutch Party. Even if he has several aspects effectively discussible, is come back to government because of his democratic spirit and he also has been “smart” deciding for cooperation with those parties whose program is not assimilable at 100% to his own. In many parts of Europe lay electors are waiting an answer from progressive parties because the initiatives in favour of integration – more female participation, legislative instruments such as pacs (Pact Civil de Solidarietè), etc – must be real and not only “talks” in Parliament. Maybe, today, initiatives take place even outside of Parliament because “self-reference” has made often – as in Italy – electoral and territorial fragmentation and disintegration.
An innovation in European Community is the possibility of the candidature of Mary Robinson. She never covered direct government charges in her Country (Eire) or in Europe. Mary Robinson has been President of the Irish Republic from 1990 to 1997 and UNHR Commissioner from 1998 to 2002, a field where Europe has still a lot to do. Plus in an economical and institutional background – waiting at continental level for a readjustment between sexes in the top management decisional organizations – the arrival of a lady ( of proven capacities expressed in a ten – year activity in the Labour Party of her Country) would be, without a doubt, a relevant sign.