Wednesday 8 July 2009

Swedish openness and Lisbon Treaty

Preparing the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, in case it enters into force, is going to be a real test for the vaunted openness of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

There are important new posts to fill: the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy (and Vice-President of the Commission) and the Secretary-General of the Council. In addition, the next President of the Commission needs to be nominated officially, as well as the members of the European Commission.

(The European Parliament seems to have decided on its Presidents for the next five years without bothering with public discussion of engaging the EU citizens.)

In addition to the candidacies and nominations, decisions are needed on the tasks and benefits of the new offices. Preparation is needed for implementing decisions, including new or adapted Rules of Procedure for the Council.

With the exception of a few ‘ad hoc’ decisions by the European Council on the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty (Irish guarantees, composition of the European Parliament etc.) no progress report has surfaced since the Slovenian Council Presidency and no proposals have been tabled for public discussion.

There have been no open nominations of candidates for the new top jobs and consequently no real public discussion about their merits (only speculation fueled by leaks).

The Government of Sweden has a golden opportunity to open up the procedures to the public and to engage in real discussion about the coming proposals, breaking with the catastrophic habit of stitch-ups behind closed doors.

The citizens of the European Union have a right to expect something better than the old ways from the Swedish Council Presidency, which already has managed to produce the best Presidency website in EU history.

Ralf Grahn

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