Friday 11 December 2009

After dinner European Council 10 December 2009

More work through the night to agree on the European Union’s climate measures was the message conveyed by the late press conference of Swedish prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Commission president José Manuel Barroso after the European Council dinner Thursday evening. The press conference video is available on the web site of the Swedish Council presidency as well.

On the video streaming page, I saw two promising links:

• List of reference documents submitted to the European Council
• Latest press releases

Joy was clearly premature.

The only reference document listed for this European Council meeting, the first under the Lisbon Treaty and the new Rules of Procedure, was the annotated draft agenda dated 9 November 2009.

The latest press release was the one informing us that president Herman Van Rompuy would take part in the dinner (dated 9 December 2009).

In other words, EU citizens are not supposed to know what goes in, or what goes on.

At the end, vague conclusions are offered, but the Council formations, like wholly owned subsidiaries, start taking exact decisions based on the often minute guidelines, directions and priorities received.

The citizens are out of the loop.

The European Council is now a formal institution in a union of 500 million people, but despite the Lisbon Treaty principles of openness, representative democracy and closeness to citizens, its standards of governance fall short of the most obscure municipal board in my country.

Ralf Grahn

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  1. Thanks again Ralf. Couldn't agree more: we count for nothing. But that is what I have learned to expect from politicians at all levels.

  2. French Derek,

    There is an interesting tension between two currents:

    The signals from EU leaders (Herman Van Rompuy, Matti Vanhanen) that the European Council should discuss questions of strategic importance and squander less time on mundane issues. Every body responsible for setting the strategic course needs less formal discussions to think through issues.

    On the other hand, since the European Council issues guidelines, sets priorities and makes decisions as a formal institution, it should attain basic standards of public governance - which it doesn't.

    As I see it, there is need for improvement on both counts, and I am astonished that these fundamental questions are not discussed more and much deeper than what I see.

    The European Council is the most important institution of the European Union, but media seem to be content to parrot its conclusions.


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