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Friday, May 1, 2009

EU administration in April, 2009

Happy Day of Labor!
Today:
  1. Europe on 'autopilot' as Czech government falls
  2. EU offered timetable for Barroso's successor
  3. Brown backs Barroso for second term at EU helm
  4. Ombudsman launches online guide for complainants
  5. All EU legislation should be published, say MEPs
Quote of the day:I would vote left, because I think that the best decisions made in the EP are those backed by the socialists. And a big deal of idiocy was avoided thanks to their opposition. Now is the time to have a Parliament that would protect our rights as citizens and persons, so I will vote left. You chose for yourself, but please, go out and vote.

Europe on 'autopilot' as Czech government falls

25 March 2009

Analysts said "Europe is now on autopilot" after Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek's minority centre-right government lost a confidence vote in parliament yesterday (24 March). The Czech Republic is the current holder of the rotating six-month EU presidency.

The three-party ruling coalition had held a fragile majority in parliament since its 2007 appointment, and lost by just one vote after defectors from its camp supported the left-wing opposition.

The ousted Czech prime minister tried to give assurances last night that the vote would have no impact on his country's EU presidency.

"At the moment, this situation has no effect on the role of the president of the European Council," Topolánek said in a statement issued by the Czech Presidency.

Topolánek had earlier indicated his readiness to resign, although the opposition Social Democrats said his government could stay on until Prague hands over the rotating EU presidency to Sweden on 1 July.

The opposition blamed the government for economic mismanagement and criticised reforms including a flat income tax, fees for doctor visits and budget cuts.

Other issues affected by the Czech instability could include the government's long-standing plans to host a US anti-missile radar site, a move opposed by the Social Democrats that had already been put on ice due to a lack of support in parliament.

The implications of Tuesday's vote for the stalled ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by the Czech Republic remain unclear.

The Czech Senate has been unable to move on ratifying Lisbon without the accompanying ratification of an agreement with the US to install a radar, part of the anti-missile shield favoured by the previous administration in Washington. source

My comment: I don't think that there is a problem for Europe, because of the problems for Topolanek. Obviously, even the opposition doesn't want him gone before the handing the Presidency to Sweden, so it looks like a French-guided media hysteria to me. I mean, they don't do so much for the EU anyway, what's the difference who's in charge in Czech. Note-I don't underestimate the role of the smaller countries, I'm realistic towards their desire to do anything. After all, had they wanted, they could do so much for the Union. They just prefered to play the offended little brother and tell everyone how miserable they felt. Oh, well! You cannot expect to be respected if you don't respect yourself. Anyway, that's almost over-2 months to go.

EU offered timetable for Barroso's successor

20 March 2009

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering threw down the gauntlet yesterday (19 March) by proposing to EU leaders meeting in Brussels that the next president of the European Commission be appointed on 15 July.

In his speech, which traditionally opens EU summits, Pöttering proposed to formally appoint the next Commission president the day after the first meeting of the newly-elected European Parliament.

European elections are scheduled for 4-7 June throughout the EU, and the first meeting of the newly-elected assembly is to be held on 14 July.

The name of the candidate designated to replace José Manuel Barroso should be known as early as 18-19 June, ten days after the EU elections.

"No matter what, we want the election of the president of the Commission to take place on 15 July 2009. This election must reflect the outcome of the European elections. For this to happen, consultations between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament will be necessary," the Parliament president stated in his speech.

The announcement seems to contradict a recent statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said the appointment of the next Commission president should take place after the second Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum, expected in October (EurActiv 03/03/09).

Asked whether the short notice was intended to help the re-appointment of current Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who – like Pöttering – hails from the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the Parliament president said: "I don't want to talk about people, and I'm not the president of the EPP. I want to talk about procedures […] and that's why we need to have a timetable on how to proceed. And the first solid pillar of this procedure is the election of the president of the European Commission."

But he admitted that EU leaders were already discussing "people who may be available to become president of the Commission". While there are not many names, he added, the short notice should not be an obstacle if there was enough political will. Besides Barroso, the name of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, leader of the European Socialists, has emerged as a candidate for the top job. As an unwritten rule, the political family that wins the European elections gets the position of Commission president. source

My comment:Hm, I don't like too much unwritten rules. And I like Barroso-I think he does the job fine. Even though I'm a socialist. So, can't we keep him? Anyway, I'm happy to see that the European Parliament gets more authority-that's the way it should be and so far, they are very rational in their decisions (well most of the time). I just hope there will be a good balance after the elections. And I'd like to use the opportunity to urge all of you to vote on the Elections! This is important! I would vote left, because I think that the best decisions made in the EP are those backed by the socialists. And a big deal of idiocy was avoided thanks to their opposition. Now is the time to have a Parliament that would protect our rights as citizens and persons, so I will vote left. You chose for yourself, but please, go out and vote. Don't let your apathy allow some idiots in the Parliament, because those people have to have an attitude, they have to help balance the European Union and to bring more power to the people. So please, be resonsible in your choice and DO IT!

Brown backs Barroso for second term at EU helm

17 March 2009

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday (16 March) backed José Manuel Barroso for a second five-year term as president of the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm.

"I want to make absolutely clear that we will support him not only as the current president of the European Commission but for election as the next president of the European Commission," Brown said in London at a joint news conference with Barroso.

"He has done an excellent job as president of the European Commission. He has been building a stronger, fairer and more prosperous Europe and has led the way on climate change. He has been building consensus among European leaders on the challenges that face us collectively."

The public endorsement by Brown, a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES), comes as a welcome show of support for Barroso, whose re-appointment as Commission president was recently thrown into doubt.

Leaders of the conservative European People's Party (EPP) informally endorsed Barroso, a member of their party, for a second term in October last year (EurActiv 16/10/08).

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this month cautioned against appointing a new Commission president too quickly.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - also an EPP member - has remained silent in recent months over Barroso's future, refraining from giving him an explicit vote of support until she assesses his ongoing handling of the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, European socialist leaders have not yet agreed whether they should openly back one of their party members to succeed Barroso. While centre-left leaders such as Spain's José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Portugal's José Sócrates have backed Barroso for a second term, some national party affiliates have openly challenged this stance. source

My comment: Why there are no female candidates? That is so...dull. I like the pink that Angela wears. You know, a recent research I found in physorg found that people prefer masculine leader in times of war and feminine leader in time of peace. So, it would be nice to see more women on the top-if not else, it would be like a prayer for peace and better diplomacy. Anyway, it's fun that Brown supported Barroso, because after all, Tony Blair wanted that position in case the Lisbon Treaty was signed.

Ombudsman launches online guide for complainants

17 March 2009

The European Ombudsman on Friday (13 March) launched an interactive guide for citizens wishing to complain about the EU institutions in an attempt to ensure that the complaints he receives are admissible.

"Three quarters of the complaints I receive each year are outside my mandate," EU Ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros said last week, launching the site at a seminar on EU problem-solving. The Ombudsman can only investigate allegations of "maladministration in the EU institutions," he explained.

Citizens using the online guide, which is available in all 23 official languages of the EU, must answer a series of questions regarding the nature of their complaint to help determine whether it is admissible to the Ombudsman. Admissible complaints concern issues like lack of transparency, late payments for EU projects, discrimination and unfairness.

Diamandouros told EurActiv last month that the "vast majority" of the 3,500-4000 complaints he receives each year from citizens, companies, regional offices, associations and NGOs are inadmissible, because they should be dealt with at national level (EurActiv 18/02/09).

The Ombudsman last week cited national and regional ombudsmen, who deal with accusations of maladministration at member-state level, and online problem-solving network SOLVIT (which deals with the misapplication of internal market law) as examples of other places to turn.

The new guide will also recommend complainants to consider trying the European Parliament's petitions system. source

My comment: Oh, that's nice. But I have an idea for a better system-you answer those questions, the system authomatically decides where your complaint would be best direceted and sends the complaint to it. Smart, huh?

All EU legislation should be published, say MEPs

12 March 2009

Making all EU legislation available to the public must be a basic principle of the Union, the European Parliament decided yesterday (11 March). But MEPs delayed a legislative vote on the issue to give the EU institutions more time to reach agreement on outstanding issues, like the privacy of individuals.

The report, adopted with 439 votes in favour to 200 against amid 57 abstentions during yesterday's plenary session in Strasbourg, amends Commission plans to improve public access to EU documents published last April.

Despite adopting Cashman's report, MEPs decided to postpone their vote on an accompanying legislative resolution until a later date, returning the dossier to the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs in an attempt to get all three EU institutions to agree on the file before first-reading.

With EU elections set for June, the legislative vote was postponed until after the summer to give the European Commission the opportunity "to modify its proposal" and allow MEPs to "negotiate a first-reading agreement with the Council" after the beginning of a new parliamentary term, the Parliament said in a statement.

"The Council will then be chaired by the Swedish Presidency, which has made a priority of the issue of transparency and already welcomed the Cashman report in a public declaration," MEPs further explained.

The report defines 'document' as "any data or content, whatever its medium, concerning a matter related to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the institutions' sphere of responsibility".

MEPs demanded that legislative dossiers be made completely public, including the positions of national delegations to the Council, and called on the EU institutions to make sure that "all documents" are contained in their registers.

The Parliament stressed that legislative documents "should always be available to the public and may not be kept secret on the grounds that this could undermine the decision-making process of the institutions".

The Parliament established a scale for classifying documents. Should their disclosure be considered harmful to EU or national interests, files could be held back as 'EU restricted' or 'EU top secret'.

Documents whose unauthorised disclosure "could harm the interests of the EU or its member states" can be classified as ‘EU top secret’, but not if they concern legislative procedures.

Moreover, satisfactory reasons for refusing public access must be given. Documents to which access could be denied under this clause include those containing information related to "the privacy or integrity of an individual".

MEPs called for the creation of a single EU web portal to house documents from all three institutions, including "preparatory documents, impact studies [and] legal opinions".

The Parliament wants information officers to be appointed by the EU institutions, responsible for ensuring that access to documents rules are correctly applied.

MEPs were quick to introduce measures to protect their political activity and independence. "Documents and electronic records that an MEP has received, drafted or sent are not to be considered as 'documents' in the sense of this regulation, as they are covered [by the MEPs' statute]," the report stated.

The Parliament's report also reiterated MEPs' desire to establish an inter-institutional lobbyists' register, making public "the names, titles and functions" of lobbyists and EU officials "unless this information would affect the privacy or integrity of the individual".

The EU institutions will now attempt to reach agreement on the amended law in the autumn, once the new Parliament and the Swedish EU Presidency have begun their work. source

My comment: Me likes. That's all. I just hope they adopt this as soon as possible.

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