A little country in a big union
Belgians may quarrel about having to split the country in two or three, having Walloon, Flemish and German speaking people having to live in their own little state, but how would they feel about their position in the bigger state of Europe?
Not in every country of the EU it is easy to get into the offices of the bureaucratic system and to get the right information or to be able to get to see certain documents. In the amalgamation of states, the formation of the European Union it should come to be that the European Union is the big law giver and the democratic ruler of all the parties involved.
To have people to accept such a governing body they do need a clearer and wider access to the decision-making process.
The European Court of Justice ruled on 17 October 2013 that the Council’s policy of releasing legislative drafting documents with the names of member states tabling amendments blacked out was not in conformity with EU law (Council v Access Info Europe Case C-280/11 P). The European Parliament intervened by joining the case in support of Access Info Europe.
Citizen’s rights to have access to documents
Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, rapporteur for the original Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents and its current revision, lauded the European Parliament’s historical move for defending citizen’s rights:
“I congratulate Access Info Europe for helping, through this case, to clarify EU legislation and keeping all of us accountable. I am proud our House has stood by EU citizens and stood for what it has been continuously fighting for: more transparency of the decision-making process. It is a shame that the other two Institutions, the Council and the European Commission, prefer to challenge civil society and the citizens they represent rather than recognising that the current legislation needs to be revised and not only interpreted by the judges.”
Key factor for feeling to be a part of the union
Transparency is the key to credibility. The citizens shall only be able to believe the European Union is doing a good job, when they themselves feel that they can really make a part of it and that the Union is wiling to take them in account. The union with its leaders should become reliable and open to its general public. That public would like to see easier access to documents than they have at the moment in their own countries. Therefore the European Parliament called for the co-legislators to start the negotiations again for a deal that will ensure better access by EU citizens to EU documents.
We as citizens, ordinary folks, members of the general public, journalists have to know what our governments are doing inside the Council and what positions they are taking and we should be able to not only follow the plans of the community but having our say in it as well. Matters which concern us all should be allowed to be discussed and voted for by representatives every citizen could vote for.
Necessity to update the legislation
I with Michael Cashman am hopeful that such decisions of the European Court of Justice will open the eyes of member states to the necessity to update the legislation accordingly and to stop relying on jurisprudence.
Our citizens need a clearer and wider access to the decision-making process and the ECJ has confirmed this today. Now, let’s get around the table and do the work”.
says Michael Cashman.
To be a judge of targets
To receive credibility by its citizens the EU needs to make sure that we, in our developed countries, meet the targets and goals, for example, on transparency, good governance, and fighting corruption and the tax evasion that we see being practised by multinationals. There should be a taken care of that those white collar fraudulent people who fool the public shall get their punishment and would not get any more extra bonuses for their fiascos they brought over the financial market.
Aiming for social and political equality
To sound convincing that the EU takes care of its citizens, the public should have to see that enough measures are taken, to protect the way of life and welfare of every citizen. As long as there are too many differences between the treatment of workers from one or another country or ethnicity, people shall not have the good feeling about a union which is not a unity. We need fully to integrate the equality dimension – equality between countries and also within countries.
We should strive to equality in payment for the jobs done wherever in the Union. We also should come to a system of equality of revenue, including between women and men, and also equality of access to health, education, social protection and other social services, and human rights equality – including equality irrespective of sexual orientation, and fully respecting women’s rights. The economic inequality is till to big in the European Union.
Much more work should be made of it.
- Why the European Union should suspend SWIFT data exchange with the US (vergingoneurope.wordpress.com)
The NSA uses the SWIFT data exchange to monitor international payments, the German Spiegel reported about one month ago. According to information from whistleblower Edward Snowden, a NSA division called “Follow The Money” collects EU information from EU citizens using SWIFT and transfers it to the NSA’s own database.
Following the NSA scandal, the European Commission’s position in this debate seems rather naive: NSA revelations have shown that the US intelligence service has used several ways to obtain private data from EU citizens. The SWIFT data exchange seems to be part of this strategy – a fact the NSA does not even vehemently deny.
- Freeze US-EU pact aimed at tracking terrorism funds, advises Strasbourg (theguardian.com)
The European parliament on Tuesday demanded a financial transactions information-sharing pact between the EU and the US aimed at tracking terrorism funding be frozen because of the US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance operations.
The three-year-old agreement, known as Swift, had to be suspended because of suspicions that the NSA was using the arrangements to pry into Europeans’ bank and financial dealings, the parliament said in a resolution.
The demand in Strasbourg has little impact since the European commission has to decide whether to recommend a freezing of the bilateral agreement between Washington and Brussels, and a decision would then need to be taken by the 28 national governments of the EU by two-thirds majority. The parliament resolution obliges neither the commission nor the governments to act.
- The EU selects Scytl Election Night Reporting for the 2014 Parliamentary Elections (prweb.com)
Scytl, the worldwide leader in secure online voting and election modernization, has been selected to provide Election Night Reporting (ENR) for the European Parliament Elections being held on May 22-25, 2014 across all 28 member states of the EU.
Together with TNS Opinion, Scytl will create an election Coordination Center that will enable the EU to leverage innovative election modernization technology
- EU Seeks to Block US Financial Spying (leaksource.wordpress.com)
The European Parliament called on Wednesday for U.S. access to a global financial database in Belgium to be suspended due to concerns that the United States is snooping on the European Union, not just combating terrorism.
EU lawmakers voted to freeze Washington’s ability to track international payments because of suspicions that it has abused an agreement giving it limited access to the SWIFT database.
- EU ministers seek progress on banking union (bigstory.ap.org)
European finance ministers are seeking to make progress on the thorny issue of establishing a banking union that is intended to stabilize the bloc’s financial system. Ministers from the 17 European Union countries that use the euro currency met Friday in Vilnius, Lithuania, to discuss the…
- Transparency ruling challenges EU states (euobserver.com)
Europe’s top court has ruled against member states wanting to withhold information on the EU legislative process in what is said to be a landmark case for greater transparency.People requesting documents from the Council of the European Union – representing national governments – receive them with the names of member states blocked out.
Madrid-based Access Info Europe, an international human rights organisation, challenged the practice and the policy and won.
“The importance is for civil society, for journalists, for members of the general public to know what our governments are doing inside the Council and what positions they are taking,” Helen Darbishire, Access Info Europe executive director, told this website on Monday (21 October).