Tuesday, 9 November 2010

EU citizenship: Rapid reaction to Lamassoure’s report?

What happened to Alain Lamassoure’s report The citizen and the application of community law during the French presidency of the Council of the European Union during the latter half of 2008? Perhaps it was not entirely fair to start looking for concrete progress in the midterm review written by Christian Lequesne and Olivier Rozenberg (and published by Sieps), as I did in the blog post: Towards a citizens’ EU? Lamassoure report and French presidency (7 November 2010).

Each Council presidency reports on its ‘achievements’, and the French presidency in 2008 will hardly be remembered for more modesty than others. The report French presidency of the Council of the European Union: Review and outlook 1 July – 31 December 2008 runs to 42 pages

We search in vain for the name of Lamassoure to appear anywhere in the presidency report.

However, Chapter 3 sounds promising: A Europe at the service of citizens and enterprises (pages 14-26).

We do find encouragement for the mobility of young people (page 14), the construction of a European research area (ERA) including the free movement of researchers (page 14), the promotion of vocational mobility (page 15), improving professional mobility in terms of role and location (page 19), implementing rules for coordination of social protection systems (page 19), cross-border health care (page 21), advances in developing the common area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ; page 22), and other worthwhile causes.

We have to continue to page 23 to find the headline A Europe of Justice committed to strengthening the protection of people, facilitating the daily life of citizens and increasing mutual trust. Finally, on page 24, we find two paragraphs more directly related to concrete problems encountered by mobile EU citizens:

EU citizens, particularly those who exercise their right to free movement, expect European justice to facilitate their daily and family life. In this spirit, the French Presidency did its utmost to reach a political agreement on the regulation on maintenance obligations. This led to a decision, notably for the 170 000 couples of different nationalities in Europe that divorce each year, to simplify and accelerate the recovery of alimony, be it for adults or children.

Regarding dependent persons, ratification by France of the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 will allow the Convention to enter into force. The Presidency has already managed to encourage several Member States to unite with it in a movement which should continue with a view to offering better protection from one State to another for handicapped children, wards and the elderly.

The EU citizens who exercise their right to free movement expect the EU to facilitate their daily and family life. This is acknowledged once in 42 pages, although the practical consequences were limited to quite specific instances.

There are some of his interviews and conferences in the meantime, but Alain Lamassoure’s web page Mission sur le citoyen et l’application du droit communautaire is silent on official action between the delivery of his report on 27 June 2008 and the Commission’s citizenship report 27 October 2010, exactly 28 months later.

Are the eleven million EU citizens living in another member state satisfied with the rapidity of reaction and effectiveness of response from the member states and the EU institutions?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Responsiveness – or lack of it – comes in many shapes and colours. Yesterday Mathew Lowry published a blog entry called The Brussels bubble may be growing, but it’s still a bubble, where he looks at the real social media challenges for the EU institutions. While you are at it, profit by reading a number of Lowry’s earlier posts about the European online public space.