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 The European Council - Not So Transparent

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PostSubject: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:49 pm

I would like to know what contribution Ireland makes to the European Council session on today and tomorrow on a number of very important current matters - Climate change ( we have a thread on the FOE objections to the Irish Government approach), the Lisbon Treaty and the ESDF. Unfortunately, whilst European Parliament sessions are viewable live online, only very selective snippets of a limited range of Council sessions are available. Having hunted the Council's website, this is the only information I can come up with on today and tomorrow's sessions.

December Summit

On 11 and 12 December 2008 the Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States are meeting in Brussels for the European Council.
The subjects for discussion include energy and climate change, financial and economic matters, the Treaty of Lisbon and the European Security and Defence Policy.
At the end of its meeting, the European Council will adopt the "Presidency conclusions" setting out the political approaches and decisions taken by the leaders. The conclusions will be available immediately and in full on this website.


Conclusions may be made available, but what I want to know is what did my elected representatives say and do at the Council, which is the main decision-making body of the EU. which is an influential meeting of the EU Heads of State. Is there any way I can find out?


Last edited by cactus flower on Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correction of role of Council cf)
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:33 pm

No the European Council has discretion for what it releases. There is no freedom of information procedure to get any information from such meetings.

Same goes for the Council of the European Union (aka the Council of Ministers) though this will change if Lisbon is passed as all deliberations on legislative matters will be done in public.


Last edited by johnfás on Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:36 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I would like to know what contribution Ireland makes to the European Council session on today and tomorrow on a number of very important current matters - Climate change ( we have a thread on the FOE objections to the Irish Government approach), the Lisbon Treaty and the ESDF. Unfortunately, whilst European Parliament sessions are viewable live online, only very selective snippets of a limited range of Council sessions are available. Having hunted the Council's website, this is the only information I can come up with on today and tomorrow's sessions.

December Summit

On 11 and 12 December 2008 the Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States are meeting in Brussels for the European Council.
The subjects for discussion include energy and climate change, financial and economic matters, the Treaty of Lisbon and the European Security and Defence Policy.
At the end of its meeting, the European Council will adopt the "Presidency conclusions" setting out the political approaches and decisions taken by the leaders. The conclusions will be available immediately and in full on this website.


Conclusions may be made available, but what I want to know is what did my elected representatives say and do at the Council, which is the main decision-making body of the EU.
Is there any way I can find out?

The minutes of the Council of the European Union are here. Unfortunately, they're minutes rather than a verbatim transcript of proceedings (which I would love to see), and they're not always completely released to the public.

Bear in mind that the European Council isn't formally an EU institution under the current Treaties. It's more in the nature of something like the G8 meetings, or other international/inter-governmental meetings from which us plebs are excluded.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:33 pm

Good link Ibis, thanks. It lead me to the Committee of Permanent Representatives that is described as "pivotal" in relation to the Council of the European Union's work. Ireland's "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Ireland" is Bobby McDonagh.

Our Deputy Permanent Representative is Geraldine Byrne Nason.
http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm

Who are these people? Do we get minutes and recordings of their meetings?

Here's the whole lot of them (It seems to include spouses?)

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=idea.hierarchy&nodeID=4251&lang=en
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:44 am

cactus flower wrote:
Good link Ibis, thanks. It lead me to the Committee of Permanent Representatives that is described as "pivotal" in relation to the Council of the European Union's work. Ireland's "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Ireland" is Bobby McDonagh.

Our Deputy Permanent Representative is Geraldine Byrne Nason.
http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm

Who are these people? Do we get minutes and recordings of their meetings?

Here's the whole lot of them (It seems to include spouses?)

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=idea.hierarchy&nodeID=4251&lang=en

It does. I know a couple of them.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:20 am

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Good link Ibis, thanks. It lead me to the Committee of Permanent Representatives that is described as "pivotal" in relation to the Council of the European Union's work. Ireland's "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Ireland" is Bobby McDonagh.

Our Deputy Permanent Representative is Geraldine Byrne Nason.
http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm

Who are these people? Do we get minutes and recordings of their meetings?

Here's the whole lot of them (It seems to include spouses?)

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=idea.hierarchy&nodeID=4251&lang=en

It does. I know a couple of them.

How does this set up work? and why the spouses?
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:00 am

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Good link Ibis, thanks. It lead me to the Committee of Permanent Representatives that is described as "pivotal" in relation to the Council of the European Union's work. Ireland's "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Ireland" is Bobby McDonagh.

Our Deputy Permanent Representative is Geraldine Byrne Nason.
http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm

Who are these people? Do we get minutes and recordings of their meetings?

Here's the whole lot of them (It seems to include spouses?)

http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=idea.hierarchy&nodeID=4251&lang=en

It does. I know a couple of them.

How does this set up work? and why the spouses?

No idea why the spouses are listed. One of the people I know is married to a British diplomat, and she's listed. I keep meaning to go over and see them in Brussels.

As to how this set up works - do you mean who are all these people and what are they doing there? The answer to that is that they're the people who, in a very real sense, are the Irish voice in the EU, as well as Ireland's eyes and ears. They sit on the various committees and working groups, are involved in drafting the legislation the Commission proposes. They're the bit of the Irish machine that interfaces directly with the EU machinery.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:24 am

ibis wrote:
..

As to how this set up works - do you mean who are all these people and what are they doing there? The answer to that is that they're the people who, in a very real sense, are the Irish voice in the EU, as well as Ireland's eyes and ears. They sit on the various committees and working groups, are involved in drafting the legislation the Commission proposes. They're the bit of the Irish machine that interfaces directly with the EU machinery.

So are these people appointed or what ? Apply for the jobs ? Are they business people with Eu trade concerns ?
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:36 am

Bobby McDonagh seems to be a career diplomat and an author on EU matters:
He wrote a book on the Treaty of Nice negotiations that might be interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:45 am

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
ibis wrote:
..

As to how this set up works - do you mean who are all these people and what are they doing there? The answer to that is that they're the people who, in a very real sense, are the Irish voice in the EU, as well as Ireland's eyes and ears. They sit on the various committees and working groups, are involved in drafting the legislation the Commission proposes. They're the bit of the Irish machine that interfaces directly with the EU machinery.

So are these people appointed or what ? Apply for the jobs ? Are they business people with Eu trade concerns ?

Irish civil servants, pretty much. The following is from the UK Permanent Representation website:

Quote :
Our job is to represent the UK's interests in the EU. We are civil servants drawn from a wide range of British Government Departments. We spend our time negotiating and lobbying on behalf of the UK.

This means we work closely with the 26 other Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

And we keep in touch with anyone who has an interest in what happens here, or who is affected by the EU. This includes British companies, their employees, the UK regions, British Parliamentarians, lobbyists, consultants, academics and the media. We also help British business looking for commercial opportunities.

Replace UK with Ireland, and British with Irish. This is the much-maligned 'goodwill' stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:39 pm

ibis wrote:
EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
ibis wrote:
..

As to how this set up works - do you mean who are all these people and what are they doing there? The answer to that is that they're the people who, in a very real sense, are the Irish voice in the EU, as well as Ireland's eyes and ears. They sit on the various committees and working groups, are involved in drafting the legislation the Commission proposes. They're the bit of the Irish machine that interfaces directly with the EU machinery.

So are these people appointed or what ? Apply for the jobs ? Are they business people with Eu trade concerns ?

Irish civil servants, pretty much. The following is from the UK Permanent Representation website:

Quote :
Our job is to represent the UK's interests in the EU. We are civil servants drawn from a wide range of British Government Departments. We spend our time negotiating and lobbying on behalf of the UK.

This means we work closely with the 26 other Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

And we keep in touch with anyone who has an interest in what happens here, or who is affected by the EU. This includes British companies, their employees, the UK regions, British Parliamentarians, lobbyists, consultants, academics and the media. We also help British business looking for commercial opportunities.

Replace UK with Ireland, and British with Irish. This is the much-maligned 'goodwill' stuff.


The Commission proposes legislation and these people work on it, yes? Feed it up to the Council of the EU who vote on it?
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:42 pm

I presume we are talking about COREPER here? Yes that is what happens... to an extent.

There is a huge increase in the power of the European Parliament in the decision making process though with the codecision procedure (Art 251). The areas of of applicability for codecision are set to increase if Lisbon is ratified.

You also have the cooperation procedure where the EP can force the Council to pass legislation only by unanimity and the consultation procedure where the EP must be consulted, the result of which is not binding. However, the creation and expansion of the codecision procedure has given quite a bit of extra power to the EP. It is already the most widely used legislative procedure within the Community.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:22 pm

These are the people involved: civil servants or diplomats? Is there a difference?
http://www.dfa.ie/uploads/documents/Embassy/Brussels%20PR/organigram%20website.pdf

The last part of this page describes how COREPER works - including presumably the Grand Panjandrum or whatever he/she is called:

http://ec.europa.eu/ireland/general_information/ireland_eu/competences/index_en.htm

They seem to vet draft EU legislation from the Irish perspective and then negotiate on the final form of the legislation.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:23 pm

CF wrote

Quote :
The Commission proposes legislation and these people work on it, yes? Feed it up to the Council of the EU who vote on it?

The right of legislative initiative of parliaments is a core feature of a parliamentary democracy - being that parliaments are made up of elected representatives (TDs, Congressmen, MPs or MEPs etc) thse are the very people to whom voters are signing over authority to make rules on our behalf. That's the theory. The MEPs who sit in the EP are the only directly elected representatives throughout the whole EU apparatus but their parliament is the least powerful group in the entire structure, the direct opposite of what is the case in true parliamentary democracies. They have no right of legislative initiative. With respect Johnfas, the much advertised concessions made in recent times to this glaring democratic deficit at the heart of the EU still don't come next or near to putting this situation right. They can only be said to be 'vast' improvements relative to the extremely weak position of the EP beforehand. Here's paper on the subject which makes clear how some of the accusations of democratic deficit are based on misunderstandings but which goes to show, nevertheless, that there is still a major problem with the EU. Its authors are pro EU which makes their criticisms all the more relevant:

http://www.connex-network.org/eurogov/pdf/egp-connex-C-05-02.pdf
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:35 pm

Here is an essay, of some antiquity, on the democratic deficit of the European Union. Penned by Yours Truly:



The European Union is currently experiencing a democratic deficit. Discuss.

The issue of a democratic deficit, that is, the lack of proper democratic representation and accountability, within the European Union has become a contentious argument among analysts in recent years. The forerunner to the European Union, the EEC did include a parliamentary assembly but its members were nominated by the member state governments so as such could not be deemed a manifestation of democracy (Richardson, 2006:379). Direct elections were introduced for the European Parliament in 1979 but as an
institution it lacked real power until later, this shall be discussed further on. As the EEC developed into the European Union with it came a process of greater integration over time. This gradual process of integration appeared to have little effect on the opinions of most people and was generally uncontroversial, especially as unanimous voting procedures were in place to protect national interests. However, as the EU has begun to ‘encroach’ on more aspects of people’s lives, a rethink into the legitimacy and accountability of its bodies has begun to occur (Bache and George, 2006:66). There is a distinct but often overlapping dichotomy of democratic difficulties facing the European Union. The first difficulty is that of the democratic accountability and legitimacy of the European Union’s institutions in formulating and enforcing legislation. The other difficulty facing democracy in the European Union is identified by Dimitris Chryssochoou as the social-psychological dimension to the problem (Cini, 2003:368).

The social-psychological dimension to the problem of European democratisation rests on the lack of a single European demos. Europeanization has focused mainly on economic integration rather than the integration of the population into some form of European citizenry; this is most likely due to the fact that the former has been far less controversial. Although initiatives have been taken over time to alleviate this difficulty in countering the single market – such as the introduction of a European citizenship through Jacque Delors’ ‘Social Element’ of Maastricht – it still remains a fundamental problem (Richardson, 2001:363). Early literature regarding the democratic deficit focused on the lack of power vested in the European Parliament. Moves have been made to increase the power of the European Parliament, although it is still only one of four institutions which holds power and is certainly not the most powerful of these, despite being the only one with a direct mandate. However, Bache and George highlight that what the Parliament lacks most is “not power but a mandate to use that power in any particular way” (Bache and George, 2006:69). The European
Parliament struggles to act in a consistent and concerted manner due to the fact that they are rarely elected on a mandate of European issues. This is because European Parliament elections are not generally fought on European issues, but as second rate national elections; in other words, a public plebicite on the electorate’s satisfaction with the incumbent national government. Simon Hix believes that this leads to two general outcomes. First, because these elections are less important than national elections, the voter turnout is lower. Second, those who do vote will often vote differently than they would in a national election, as it is really a vote about the performance of the government. Survey evidence supports the idea that European Parliament elections allow people to vote more sincerely than strategically and as a result fringe parties do significantly better in European elections than domestic elections. Voters are quite likely to vote differently in European than national elections as can be seen with twenty per cent of the European electorate doing so in the 1994 European election (Hix, 2005:193-194).

The lack of a European demos clearly links to the voter apathy regarding European Parliament elections. A significant question, therefore, is how to address this situation. In order to create a European demos, members of it must recognise their collective existence as ‘Europeans’. The granting of common citizen rights in the Maastricht Treaty does little to address this problem as the issue at stake from the social-psychological viewpoint is not one of institutional policy change but rather, the changing of European social perceptions. The European Union must address and change “the way that Europeans think about themselves
and the way in which they view the communities to which they belong” (Cini, 2003:274). The European Union’s ‘Eurobarometer’ provides a clear example of the high levels of apathy towards the workings of the Union. The spring 2006 results of the Eurobarometer show that only fifty per cent of the Union’s citizens have a positive opinion of its image. Furthermore, only forty-eight per cent of European’s trust the European Union. Most interestingly, only thirty-six per cent of European citizens believe that their voice counts in the European Union (Eurobarometer, Spring 2006:15-29).This represents a clear public image disaster for the Union and one which it is currently attempting to address. The European Constitutional Treaty, although not yet ratified by the member states, makes several provisions to improve the legitimacy of the Union. Top of this agenda is the simplification of EU treaties, into a single document – the Constitution – and an attempt to make this document easier to understand (europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/democratic_deficit_en.htm, accessed 23/10/06). However, issues still remain such as the absolute secrecy of European Council decisions which significantly reduces accountability to the people. It is clear though, that the European Union must do much more to create a better public image of legitimacy. This is displayed through the recent crisis of legitimacy within the Union following the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in referendums in France and The Netherlands. This has significantly set back the process of further European integration and has put the Union at a crossroads, one in which public support will be absolutely necessary if the process is to continue.

“First, and foremost, European integration has meant an increase in executive power and a decrease in national parliamentary control” (Journal of Common Market Studies, 534). This view demonstrates the second dimension of the democratic deficit put forward by political scientists is that of institutional problems. Early literature on this issue has focused heavily on the limited powers of the European Parliament. As already stated, direct elections were introduced for the European Parliament in 1979. This was the first time that an institution was directly elected within the European Union and it remains as such to this day. Clearly such a direct mandate has brought the desire among the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and others to give it stronger legislative powers within the European Union’s decision making procedure. Reforms have been made over the decades to increase the power of the Parliament. Notably, treaty revisions in 1970 and 1975 gave the Parliament the power to reject the Union’s budget. This is a significant power and one which was exercised in 1979 and 1984. The 1987 Single European Act also gave the Parliament greater authority with the granting of the cooperation procedure, which gave the opportunity of two readings of proposed legislation rather than one (Peterson and Shackleton, 2002:90 ). Further reforms were brought with the Maastricht Treaty which gave the Parliament a level of legislative initiative by making a provision for the Parliament to invite the Commission to present legislation. The Parliament views this as an incredibly important move, citing, “It plays a genuine role in creating new laws, since it examines the Commission’s annual programme of work and says which laws it would like to see introduced” (europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?id=46&pageRank=2&language=EN, accessed 28/10/2006). The most important reform of the Maastricht Treaty from the Parliament’s standpoint was the introduction of co-decision between the
Parliament and the Council allowing for the possibility of the Parliament rejecting draft legislation if negotiations fail. (Peterson and Shackleton, 2002:99). However, Simon Hix still believes that the power of the European Parliament is too weak, one of the reasons for this is that although the Parliament now has the power to reject the Commission as a whole; it by no means elects the Commission. This is because it cannot nominate or reject certain members of the Commission without rejecting the whole body. Therefore it has very limited power over that unelected institution (Journal of European Studies: 535).

There are also institutional difficulties related to some of the previously mentioned social-psychological problems. EU citizens vote on national rather than European issues primarily because they cannot vote on EU policies except in referendums on treaties which occur infrequently and never in most member states. The major powers of the European Union are vested in the Council and the Commission, neither of which have a direct mandate on European issues, though the Council members do have a national mandate from their respective electorates. This essentially leads to a situation of government, but without the people. (Richardson, 2006:387). European Council decisions are always held behind closed doors without minutes so there is little or no accountability from the Council to the European people. Despite this, some states have been reluctant to allow movement on making the European Union a seemingly more democratic organisation;
such states are deemed to have a State-Centrist. Traditional great powers such as Great Britain and Sweden have been reluctant to break away from the traditional international agreements model of treaties between fully sovereign states. This has led to their insistence on keeping a veto power, a weakening of the European Court of Justice and a rolling back of power which has been given to the Parliament in recent years. This disagreement on how to institutional adapt the European Union to create better democracy has led to those institutions themselves attempting to find greater legitimacy in a form of output democracy. This is the method of trying to find greater legitimacy by achieving effectiveness in achieving the goals that the citizens of the Union care about (Bache and George, 2006:60 ).

It is therefore clear that there is a serious problem of a democratic deficit within the European Union. The issue of halfway integration has become a difficulty for the development of democracy at EU level. There have been advances in the economic sphere in this regard but virtually every other sphere has been left behind (Bache and George, 2006:71). Such halfway integration is not politically stable and leaves the European Union at a crossroads in its development. It is clear that for the EU to become truly democratised a serious institutional reform will have to take place. Various models of reform for a new European Union have been discussed. Chryssochoou has established four possible models of in order to resolve the issue of the Union’s democratic deficit. First, the parliamentary model, this has a strong emphasis on the European Parliament’s role in the Union. Chryssochoou argues that despite having certain parliamentary characteristics, the EU is not a parliamentary system. This model would extend majority rule to all areas of the Union. This model is however, highly unlikely as it would require a strong European demos which does not yet exist. Second, the confederal model, this involves merging different states into a more structured form of union, without the loss of individual sovereignty. This model is based “on a unity of states rather than a unity of people” (Bache and George, 2006:73). It emphasises the intergovernmental structure of the European Union’s treaties and favours the diffusion of authoritative decision making to the member states rather than EU level. Chryssochoou believes that the main characteristic of this model is that it provides states with a variety of
opportunities for advantageous cooperation and that it allows for greater involvement of national parliaments. The third model which Chryssochoou proposes is the federal model, in which a union of the people within one body politics would be created. It would aim to create a cooperative ethos between the EU and the states which would become somewhat inferior. The final model proposed is that of the consociational model. In this model the Union would attempt to balance the conflicting demands of different interest groups within it, with an emphasis on the protection of the minority. Segmental autonomy would give absolute power to groups over aparticular area. This model would also have mutual vetoes which would mean unanimous approval is necessary for all important decisions. Chryssochoou believes that there is evidence to suggest that the European Union is already possesses a form of consociational democracy, this can be seen on the makeup of
the European Council (Cini, 2003:375-377). Another proposal put forward to create a greater degree of democracy is the election of the European Commission president on a European-wide basis, possibly along the lines of American elections using an Electoral College system of national members of parliament, or MPs and MEPs. Alternatively, MPs and MEPs could nominate a candidate who would be put forward to a direct vote by the citizens of the Union in a two-round contest, similar to the system used to elect the French president (Hix, 2005:205).


From the evidence given throughout this essay it is clear that there is a crisis of both legitimacy and democracy within the European Union at present. EU policy must produce outcomes which most citizens consider worthwhile; however it cannot rely on its output legitimacy to generate a deeper sense of loyalty by
the citizens to the institutions (Warleigh, 2003:112). Although the Union has been attempting to create a form of legitimacy through output democracy, it will be near impossible for it to secure input legitimacy without serious institutional reform as this requires the traditional democratic notions of influencing policy through participation and party activity, which cannot be achieved without a European demos (Richardson, 2006:388). Without a feeling of European identity throughout the Union’s population, true legitimacy will not be created. As a result, the Union is presently at a point of ‘halfway integration’. As a precondition for greater
democracy, further integration will be necessary, although this remains unpopular in a number of member states (Bache and George, 2006:76). Without institutional change the Union will remain at this halfway house of political instability, which cannot last indefinitely. Therefore the EU will almost inevitably, either roll back towards an intergovernmental body as it was previously, or integrate further – possibly along the lines of one of the models mentioned above – bringing an end to the democratic deficit of the Union.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:31 pm

I'll be having a good look at that tonight johnfás.

One of the things that struck me about the Yes campaign was that it did a very poor sell on the limited but still significant improvements to EU democratic accountability in the Treaty. Perhaps those things are less important to the Yes side and trying to get more citizen involvement and greater scrutiny of EU decision making processes, corruption and so on are not their top priorities. The changes were not dramatic enough to convince No voters that national level powers should be given up.

There may well have been a layer of people who could have been convinced, if the case had been made.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:34 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I'll be having a good look at that tonight johnfás.

One of the things that struck me about the Yes campaign was that it did a very poor sell on the limited but still significant improvements to EU democratic accountability in the Treaty. Perhaps those things are less important to the Yes side and trying to get more citizen involvement and greater scrutiny of EU decision making processes, corruption and so on are not their top priorities. The changes were not dramatic enough to convince No voters that national level powers should be given up.

There may well have been a layer of people who could have been convinced, if the case had been made.

Cactus you maynot have noticed the reference in the post ahead of Johnfas's last - the two are interesting to contrast and compare.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:40 pm

Aragon wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I'll be having a good look at that tonight johnfás.

One of the things that struck me about the Yes campaign was that it did a very poor sell on the limited but still significant improvements to EU democratic accountability in the Treaty. Perhaps those things are less important to the Yes side and trying to get more citizen involvement and greater scrutiny of EU decision making processes, corruption and so on are not their top priorities. The changes were not dramatic enough to convince No voters that national level powers should be given up.

There may well have been a layer of people who could have been convinced, if the case had been made.

Cactus you maynot have noticed the reference in the post ahead of Johnfas's last - the two are interesting to contrast and compare.

I'll do that Arrow
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:47 pm

The argument over the right of legislative initiative is a little pointless, though, because the Commission initiate most of their legislation on foot of requests from either the Council or the Parliament, and have never refused such requests.

Moving the right of legislative initiative to either of the more nationally oriented institutions would likely produce far more nationally oriented legislation.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:53 pm

ibis wrote:
The argument over the right of legislative initiative is a little pointless, though, because the Commission initiate most of their legislation on foot of requests from either the Council or the Parliament, and have never refused such requests.

Moving the right of legislative initiative to either of the more nationally oriented institutions would likely produce far more nationally oriented legislation.

Why?
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:55 pm

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
The argument over the right of legislative initiative is a little pointless, though, because the Commission initiate most of their legislation on foot of requests from either the Council or the Parliament, and have never refused such requests.

Moving the right of legislative initiative to either of the more nationally oriented institutions would likely produce far more nationally oriented legislation.

Why?

Because national Governments tend to work in the National short term interest. Look at the debacle that is the WTO negotiations.

That would be the argument.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:44 pm

johnfás wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
The argument over the right of legislative initiative is a little pointless, though, because the Commission initiate most of their legislation on foot of requests from either the Council or the Parliament, and have never refused such requests.

Moving the right of legislative initiative to either of the more nationally oriented institutions would likely produce far more nationally oriented legislation.

Why?

Because national Governments tend to work in the National short term interest. Look at the debacle that is the WTO negotiations.

That would be the argument.

So how are the Commissioners immunised from nationalism? Wages pd. from Brussels, is that it?
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:26 pm

cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
cactus flower wrote:

Why?

Because national Governments tend to work in the National short term interest. Look at the debacle that is the WTO negotiations.

That would be the argument.

So how are the Commissioners immunised from nationalism? Wages pd. from Brussels, is that it?

1) Paid by Brussels
2) Job description under Article 213 requires "that their independence shall be beyond doubt" and also "In the performance of these duties, they shall neither seek nor take instructions from any national government or from any other body".
3) Article 213 requires that they must also take a solemn oath of office before the European Court of Justice, the oath is as follows:
Quote :
Having been appointed as a member of the Commission of the European
Communities by the Council of the European Union, after the vote of
approval by the European Parliament, I do solemnly undertake: to be
completely independent in the performance of my duties, in the general
interest of the Communities; in the performance of these duties,
neither to seek nor to take instructions from any government or from
any other body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties.
I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect
this principle and not to seek to influence members of the Commission
in the performance of their tasks.
I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of
office, the obligations arising therefrom and in particular, the duty
to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance after
I have ceased to hold office of certain appointments or benefits.
4) If they breach their duties the European Court of Justice may on application by the Council or the Commission compulsorily retire him. The whole Commission may also be forced to resign by the European Parliament.

All of the above doesn't mean that there is no corruption but can you name a political system anywhere which ensures there is no corruption? What it does achieve is inter institutional balance through a series of checks and balances, each keeping the other in check.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:44 pm

Did anyone mention corruption? Its just the norm that peoples' loyalty is determined to a large extent by the name at the top of the wage packet.

Perhaps the answer is for National governments to be part paid by the EU.
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PostSubject: Re: The European Council - Not So Transparent   Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:46 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Did anyone mention corruption? Its just the norm that peoples' loyalty is determined to a large extent by the name at the top of the wage packet.

Perhaps the answer is for National governments to be part paid by the EU.

I mentioned it because a pursuing a national end as a Commissioner would be a corruption of the office as defined under the Treaties. The Commission's master is the Treaties, one of the body's core roles is watchdog of the Treaties. Hence if a Member State breaches a Treaty provision it is the Commission which brings a case before the ECJ as the Attorney General would in Ireland.
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The European Council - Not So Transparent
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