Saturday 28 November 2009

Coup des Etats: How the member states want to rule the EU and how the Parliament has to withstand

One should not forget that the Lisbon Treaty that will enter into force on Tuesday is the little brother of the Constitutional Treaty rejected for various - mostly internal - reasons in France and the Netherlands.

This Constitutional Treaty was meant to bring the Union closer to the citizens. There is room for debate on whether the result reflected this idea, but it is clear that this goal - making an existing political system, the EU, more responsive, more responsible, and more respectful to us, citizens of the European Union - has been there for good reason.

The title and privilege "Citizen of the European Union" is written on our passports and ID cards, and it is valid since 1992. This citizenship is not just a superficial idea, it is a right that allows us free movement all over the 27 member states. So while we move from one state to another, we always remain in the Union, and we always remain its citizens.

These citizen rights also include that we have the right to be represented on the European level, as we are represented on the national, regional, and local level. However, these days we see that the member states are planning their Coup des Etats, trying to take away rights and weakening supranational figures that are meant to represent our common interest:
  • Several states - the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic - are allowed to disrespect the Fundamental Rights of the citizens as guaranteed by the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Member states purposefully chose two weak leaders, van Rompuy and Ashton, for the two top posts in "their" part of the polity.
  • Member states further limit the powers of these two leaders, using loopholes in the Lisbon Treaty: van Rompuy by measures described by the EUobserver today, and Ashton by measures described by L'Europe de la Défense and me (taken up by Italian euroblogger Matizandrea in Italian).
From Tuesday, I thus expect from the European Parliament and its members to play a much stronger role in defending the rights of European citizens. Only if this, our elected representation on the European level, is able to counterbalance the power games of the states and their bureaucracies, the Union can finally move on. The Parliament has to reject misinterpretations of the Lisbon Treaty by the Council, and it has to go to Court in our name if the Council doesn't listen.

The EP also has to strengthen its communication people and MEPs have to strengthen their communication effort, it has to put more energy in explaining to the public in simply ways what it is doing and why they are doing it.

The European Parliament has to put more weight on the common interest of the 500 million EU citizens instead of accepting policy outcomes that just reflect the particular interest of the leaders of one or two countries against the general interest of the Union.

The EP has to show that it can withstand this Coup des Etats and the false claims in the name of consensus diplomacy from national politicians, national diplomats, and national bureaucrats - claims that are nothing but the defence of a status quo of privileges and powers of the past leading to policy output of the past!

PS.: The big question - and I agree with Charlemagne - is whether "B Team mediocrities who could not make it in national politics" will be able to even get close to these demands.


french derek said...

Julien: I don't see this a un coup des états, rather than a move to maintain the status quo. We were clearly misled over the true extent of the High Representative's powers, as l'Europe de la Défense details. However, let us not be fooled into thinking that powerful national leaders would so easily (with the passing of Lisbon) allow their hold over the EU to be diminished.

The real test will be both for the EP but also for the new appointees. I do not believe that Van Rompuy is weak: in fact, quite the opposite. He achieved consensus in Belgium by determination; that shows his strength of character. As for Catherine Ashton, she has a very full plate. All we can hope for is that she shows the strength of character that (apparently) she showed in ensuring the passage of Lisbon through the UK House of Lords.

It is up to these two to show their allegiance to the EU, rather than to the whims and wills of individual state heads - as earlier Commissioners have done.

The only downside to this argument is that Barroso, during his previous term of office, showed himself willing to over-ride Commissioners if one or other of the really powerful leaders so wished (the usual gang!).

Unknown said...

Today is my turn to scream:

Griffin denounced those who warn of the consequences of climate change as "cranks"

and Griffin is going to represent EU? Somehow the EU elections do not work as yet,
there are no all-EU parties and so, having appointed leaders, for a while, may be the
best solution.
And I really think you should calling them "B Team mediocrities.." . They just started.
Give them a chance, for Crisssake. You cannot know them that well, and they are not that simple.

If you continue your screaming, day after day, without substance, your blog will be very dull.


Julien Frisch said...

Petr, thanks for your criticism, I appreciate that.

But I think you misunderstood my post scriptum:

The link I put there goes to an article that criticises the members of the European Parliament (!) as you do it with Griffin (who still is an extreme example), not van Rompuy/Ashton.

So what I did with this PS was to give a counter-argument against my own argumentation, saying that my high hopes in the European Parliament might be illusionary and that criticising the member states for their choices might need to be looked at in the light of the figures in the European Parliament.

I think this is fair and was meant to show that there is neither an easy solution nor an easy argumentation on this matter.

Hope that kind of self-refutation doesn't makes my blog dulll...

Unknown said...

Sorry, I did not read the links before I (over) reacted - BUT :-) re

1)re FYROM. I believe that every person, even legal one has basic right to choose its name. To assign someone, whom you dislike a name,is not polite.
2)re Poland, the Czech Republic are allowed..disrespect .. .Yes. But why?
I think most readers of this blog lean to federalist credo. But, there are subtle 'buts' which should not be ignored:

Recent book is dealing with similar issue, which we have today in several spots, in EU and outside:
Kosovo, Swiss/Muslim, Osetia, 'Sudetenland'.. the relation between ethnicly diverse population in close contact. To show that the
issue of Sudetenland is still very live, I point to this: (do not read it - it is in Czech) ) just
look at the size of it 2300 reads!. You are not solving the issues by dismissing the concern of minority. Charts of rights needs to be made more clear. At least as clear as US amendments (and they are still arguing over it, too).
'Right to property' means only one thing: My right to MY property.