Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Re: Europa and Julien Frisch: EU transparency now!

Is there no European public sphere? If that is your belief, you don’t believe in the existence of Steve Peers, RZ or Julien Frisch (and a growing number of engaged EU citizens, researchers and NGOs).

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I was happy to see that Euroblogger RZ on Re: Europa wrote a post on the Statewatch proposals for improved openness, transparency and democracy in the European Union, prepared by Professor Steve Peers of the University of Essex.

The article ‘Towards a more perfect Union’ indicated the main thrust of the proposals, and called the document brilliant:

http://reeuropa.blogspot.com/2008/10/towards-more-perfect-union.html

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Julien Frisch, another Euroblogger with an EU citizens’ perspective, also wrote a post on the same theme ‘More transparency in the Council of the European Union!’, calling for immediate reforms:

http://julienfrisch.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-transparency-in-council-of.html

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Steve Peers and Statewatch make proposals for EU openness, transparency and democracy in two draft documents:

1) Declaration of the European Council on enhancing the openness, transparency and democracy of the activities of the European Union (Annex I)

2) Inter-Institutional Agreement On enhancing public access to documents and citizens’ participation in decision-making as regards the co-decision procedure (Annex II)

Together with the introductory explanations, they form the ‘Statewatch analysis: Proposals for greater openness, transparency and democracy in the EU’, by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex (October 2008).

The brilliance of the proposals lies in that they can be implemented now, regardless of the Lisbon Treaty. They represent small, but concrete steps towards a better union.

This important document is available at:

http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/proposals-for-greater-openness-peers-08.pdf

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Even before a democratic European Union is established, a number of improvements are possible, if the political will is there.

Essential reading for heads of state or government ─ and for other EU citizens.

“Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.” (Edmund Burke)

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No number of inter-institutional agreements on better communications or communications campaigns is going to legitimise the European project without real reform ─ big and small ─ of structures and content. As long as our leaders fail to embrace democratic reform, their project plays into the hands of populist and anti-reformist movements everywhere.

The European Union needs two things: Real power, where it matters. Real democracy, where the matters belong.

It is time for the European Council to re-found the European Union.




Ralf Grahn
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