Sunday 31 October 2010

Know your rights as an EU citizen

Are you moving within the European Union? Are you looking for work in another EU country, or are you setting up shop? Is your employer turning you into an expat? Do you want to spend retirement in another EU member state? Are there family reasons for relocating? Do you want to bring your non-EU family members into the European Union?

There are different reasons for relocating, but you should know your rights as an EU citizen. The European Commission now offers you the means to sort out the basics, before you meet public officials or turn to outside experts for advice.

At the European Commission’s DG Justice, vice-president Viviane Reding published a number of new documents concerning EU citizenship this week. (As a consequence, the informational quality of the DG Justice web pages is starting to improve, although many of them still resemble archives more than communication in real time.)

One of the positive actions was a new brochure for EU citizens, published as a high and a low resolution version in 22 languages. The freedom to move and to reside in the European Union is relevant for mobile citizens of the European Union, who plan to move to another EU country or already live outside their country of origin. It also concerns their non-EU family members:

Freedom to move and live in Europe - A Guide to your rights as an EU citizen (40 pages)

The thirteen chapter headings give you an idea of what you can expect to find basic guidance on:

Chapter 1 What is EU citizenship?
Chapter 2 Who can benefit?
Chapter 3 Where can you exercise this right?
Chapter 4 Preparing to move
Schengen rules
Chapter 5 The first three months
Reporting your presence
Chapter 6 After three months
Chapter 7 Administrative formalities
EU citizens
Non-EU family members
Chapter 8 Keeping the right to reside
Family members
Chapter 9 Right of permanent residence
Administrative requirements
Chapter 10 Equal treatment
Chapter 11 Restrictions
Chapter 12 Transitional arrangements for workers
Chapter 13 How to protect your rights

Besides the Treaty provisions on EU citizenship, the so called Citizenship Directive 2004/38 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States is important for you and 11 million other mobile union citizens.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Perhaps you should stay on top of what is happening in the European Union. Nowadays online communication offers you unprecedented ease of access to mainstream media and social media in Europe. Multilingual aggregates the posts from 686 blogs related to the European Union and the Council of Europe. These Euroblogs keep you up to date and they give you the opportunity to hone your language skills.

Friday 29 October 2010

eGovernment progress in Finland – How about foreigners?

Among the planned actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe 2010-2020 you find the so called VII Pillar: ICT for Social Challenges. Better public services are among these objectives (eGovernment).

One of the benefits of the European Union is that it fosters interaction and mutual learning between the European and national levels and between the public administrations of the member states.

Upgraded eGovernment portal

The upgraded eGovernment portal in Finland may be of interest in other EU member states. The description is detailed enough to give an inkling of what can be found at the same web address: One-stop public administration services online: Ministry of Finance and State Treasury announce launch of upgraded citizens' portal (press release 27.10.2010, 134/2010).

The speech of the minister of public administration and local government, Tapani Tölli, at the launch event adds some background information about the improvement of public services and the development of electronic services, but the speech is available only in Finnish.

Even more than before, is the web portal for practically all public sector information for individuals in Finland. is described as a one-stop service for citizens, which links you to both national and local level public services, as well as many services produced by NGOs. (Services for businesses have their own portal.)

Foreigners in Finland

On my blogs, I have been looking at information and services for mobile EU citizens, expatriates and immigrants in Finland, especially with regard to work and business.

Now is the time to glance at the portal from the perspective of foreigners. In addition to the Finnish and Swedish versions, there is a fairly complete service in English, as well as some information in a dozen more languages.

The English first page offers you links to e-services, services by topic, a service map promised by the end of 2010, state and local government (individual municipalities), and a Newsroom with public sector news.

The services have been collected under broad headings: housing and construction, families and social services, health and nutrition, law and legal protection, public safety and order, transport and travel, migration, teaching and education, library and information services, culture and communications, work and pensions, taxation and financing, nature and the environment, and sports and outdoor activities.

E-services for individuals are increasingly popular. There is no legal obligation to provide services in English, but in a pragmatic way public authorities are improving the offer of information and services. The most popular English e-service right now is the electronic form you use when you apply for council housing in the capital Helsinki.

If you are looking for information or services for people (individuals) in Finland, is where you should start.

A match made on Earth

Even if information and services in English are developing, they expand and improve the offer according to the abilities of the public administrations and public officials who produce them. However, major first languages among immigrants are Russian, Estonian, Somali and Arabic, so the match between demand and offer is not necessarily ideal.

If not a match made in Heaven, bad English may still be better than no language in common.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Newsroom Finland offers you an opportunity to find the latest news from Finland (the Finnish News Agency STT), about Finland from international media, as well as news and articles from a few selected sources in English (the broadcasting company YLE, Helsingin Sanomat International Edition, Helsinki Times).

Tuesday 26 October 2010

European Council: Impetus for European disintegration?

The European Council meets Thursday and Friday (28-29 October 2010), but two days ahead of the meeting of the heads of state or government of the EU member states the public information appears poorly structured and incomplete in the light of the published press releases and the old draft agenda.

Yesterday president Herman Van Rompuy defended the proposals of the Task force on economic governance in a speech in Brussels. A few days earlier Van Rompuy had sent a letter to members of the European Council, with the Task force report published 21 October 2010. There is a fact sheet dated the same day.

Otherwise, there was little of substance from the European Council or the Council this morning.


Van Rompuy has rejected the perception that the European Council meetings are summits. He has underlined the European Council as an institution of the European Union

However, for the citizens of the EU, little resembles an institution deliberating public affairs transparently and accountably. What we see from the outside looks like a summit of the leaders, by the leaders, and for the leaders.

It is unclear if Van Rompuy even wants the European Council to evolve institutionally, or if he prefers to nurture a high level workshop in the (vain?) hope of creating an esprit de corps strong enough to overcome great obstacles.

There is also a lack of connection between the conclusions customarily published after (not before) the meeting and the real discussions taking place.


Not even an EU summit seems to be enough. French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel short-circuited the European Union, by making a deal on the stability and growth pact bilaterally. Merkel has certainly antagonised supporters at home and abroad, but her gains look less certain (see for instance Spiegel International in English and Deutsche Welle in German).

(Wo)men and institutions

Jean Monnet is quoted as saying: "Nothing is possible without men; nothing is lasting without institutions."

Naturally, Charles Kupchan was declared to be wrong when he concluded that the EU needs a new generation of leaders who can breathe life into a project that is perilously close to expiring, and that for now, they are nowhere to be found.

What do you think?

Are the current national leaders willing and the European Council as an institution able to provide anything better than top-down impetus for European disintegration?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Technology is changing politics, says Personal Democracy Forum, which has sent missionaries to the scattered tribes on the Old Continent. Between the great powwows (highly acclaimed), Antonella Napolitano regularly reports to US HQ and the world in general through the Euro Roundups on her blog. One to follow.

Despite national and linguistic borders there is a European online public space of sorts. You can find the new posts from 680 Euroblogs on multilingual

Sunday 24 October 2010

Favourite EU books – mission impossible?

Cosmetic Uprise – UK and the EU had hardly returned to the Euroblog scene, when Mia Välimäki asked for the moon with regard to the European Union - a good read that doesn’t preach or teach: EU literature (23 October 2010).

This seemingly simple question was provocative and difficult enough to elicit comments from Eurogoblin, Gawain Towler and Nosemonkey, some of the best known Eurobloggers.

The question is relevant, but the replies are far from conclusive, so join the discussion on Cosmetic Uprise if you have ideas.

Four favourites

The question felt intriguing enough, so I fell into the trap as well; stopped for a minute to search my memory and to pick a few favourites from my bookshelf. Obviously, the legal stuff came nowhere near what Mia was looking for. The books had to be of general interest, so I thought about what I had enjoyed reading. Here is my reply:

Mia V,

As others have said, you didn’t ask for much, did you? But you left a back door open, by not explicitly requiring books in English.

It would be hard to describe them as “thrilling” or not trying to “teach”, but here are a few I have enjoyed.

Gerhard Brunn: Die Europäische Einigung von 1945 bis heute (republished by

Marie-Thérèse Bitsch: Histoire de la construction européenne – De 1945 à nos jours (Editions Complexe)

Bino Olivi & Alessandro Giacone: L’Europe difficile (Folio histoire in French; original in Italian)

Luciano Angelino: Le forme dell’Europa – Spinelli o della federazione (Il melangolo)

The morning after

This following morning an additional book has surfaced in my mind (despite much legal text):

Daniele Pasquinucci: Progetti di Costitutizione Europea – Dall’Assamblea “ad hoc” alla Dichiarazione di Laeken (Edizioni Unicopli)

I then remember that this autobiography is worth reading:

Jean Monnet: Mémoires 1-2 (Le Livre de Poche)

All in all, if not EU the institution, then at least European integration has produced a few memorable books for me. Notably, those mentioned were all written in another language than English.

If I want something inspiring in English, my mind travels to the other shore of the Atlantic: the Declaration of Independence, the Philadelphia Convention, the Constitution of the United States of America, and especially:

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay: The Federalist Papers (various publishers)

It is hard to beat the Federalist’s mix of vision, courage and wisdom.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Fondation Robert Schuman – Le centre de recherches sur l’Europe – describes itself in English as: the French think tank on Europe. The Schuman foundation publishes interesting reports and thoughts in French and English. If you haven’t done so, you should subscribe to its newsletter in French, English, Spanish or Polish.

Saturday 23 October 2010

EU free movement of persons and services: Have qualifications, will travel?

The EU Commission has published a report on how things turn out in practice for mobile professionals: Internal Market: Commission publishes reports on how Professional Qualifications Directive works in practice (22 October 2010, press release IP/10/1367; available in English, French and German).

The press release highlights a number of problems the European Commission describes as issues which deserve ‘further consideration’:

- Training requirements: the Directive provides for minimum training requirements for certain health professions (doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists) and veterinary surgeons which sometimes date back more than 30 years. A considerable number of authorities consider that these requirements should be reviewed; nearly all competent authorities for the professions concerned welcome the system of automatic recognition of the qualifications in question.

- Language knowledge for health professionals: persons benefiting from the recognition of their qualifications should have the necessary language knowledge for practising their profession in the host Member State.

- Automatic recognition in the areas of craft, trade and industry: there is a call for examining the rules in question which date back to the 1960s (in particular, for updating the list of activities).

- Electronic applications: the reports reveal that, generally, the recognition procedures cannot be fully completed by electronic means.

- Administrative cooperation which is built on the Internal Market Information System (IMI) is quite promising. A proactive alert mechanism ensuring prompt information exchange between national authorities on cases of professional malpractice (for all cases not yet covered under the Services Directive, in particular for health professionals) needs to be considered.

Professional qualifications

The internal market service of the European Commission offers a first page on Professional qualifications, with links to more detailed texts: news, Directive 2005/36/EC, evaluation of the directive, database on regulated professions, group of coordinators, regulatory committee, general system, specific sectors (health professionals and architects), infringements and judgments of Court of Justice, useful links, archives, and contact & help. If you encounter problems, there is also a link to the Citizens Signpost Service, now Your Europe Advice. Your Europe is a helpful resource with regard to other cross-border problems as well.

Evaluation of the Directive is the page for you, if you want first-hand knowledge about the reports from the Commission. The web pages about professional qualifications exist in English, French and German, but the reports in English only.

Directive 2005/36

We generally speak about European Union legislation, even if it would be more exact to refer to the European Economic Area (EEA), as a reminder that the directives are in force in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well. Adoption is implied by the words ‘Text with EEA relevance’ after the name of a directive.

A few legal acts and corrections have modified Directive 2005/36, so the link is to the consolidated (updated) version of 27 April 2009:

DIRECTIVE 2005/36/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications

The directive, including seven annexes, runs to 148 pages, but in its day it combined fifteen separate directives into one legal act. The Directive 2005/36 is a corner stone for the free provision of services and the free movement of persons in the internal market.

Next steps

The Commission intends to consult the public (stakeholders), publish a final evaluation report next autumn (2011) and prepare a Green Paper on possible amendments (by 2012).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Adjudicating Europe – Judicial developments in European law – has returned to active blogging in October, through two blog posts by ‘Cartesio’, both dealing with cases in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Hopefully the offer will begin to catch up with the demand for expert comment on EU case law.

Friday 22 October 2010

EU Green Paper on e-procurement

The European Commission has launched a consultation on expanding the use of electronic procurement in the internal market: European Commission acts to expand the use of e-procurement in the EU (18 October 2010, press release IP/10/1347; in English, French and German).

According to internal market and services commissioner Michel Barnier, the use of information and communication technology in public procurement increases the speed and efficiency of public purchasing while significantly cutting the costs when participating in tenders.

As often, the Commission offers background information in the form of FAQs: Frequently asked questions: e-Procurement (18 October 2010, MEMO/10/499; only in English).

The Public procurement main page of the Commission offers thematic links to various aspects of public purchasing in the internal market; also in French Marchés publics and in German Öffentliches Auftragswesen.

e-CERTIS database

The Commission is offering access to its e-CERTIS database which provides an on-line storehouse of the documents which are most frequently requested in the 27 Member States (for example, evidence of compliance with fiscal obligations or social security obligations or evidence of economic and financial standing). It allows users to identify such documents and match them with their local equivalent. The use of e-CERTIS helps business operators to reduce costs and uncertainty due to the lack of knowledge about the different certificates requested by the various national contracting authorities:

You can access the e-CERTIS webpage here. The User Guide is in English, but a brochure is available in 21 languages.

Consultation web page

The e-procurement consultation runs until 31 January 2011, and from the consultation web page you can access the Green Paper in 22 official EU languages. Here is a link to the English version:

Green Paper on expanding the use of e-Procurement in the EU; Brussels, 18.10.2010 COM(2010) 571 final (23 pages)

The consultation document is accompanied by the staff working document SEC(2010) 1214. On the consultation page it goes under the name of Evaluation Report and it can be accessed here (162 pages).

The COM and SEC documents have not yet been posted on Eur-Lex under Preparatory acts.

Target groups

Even if the consultation is open to all citizens and organisations, the Commission expects contributions particularly from member states, large procurement agencies and contracting authorities, the ICT industry, procurement specialists in the private and public sector and representatives of business trade associations.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. A Fistful of Euros describes itself as a webzine and a weblog, writing from a pan-European perspective. It is one of the best researched and most influential Euroblogs, widely read with a policy focus which engages many and affects everyone: the economy.

There are now 676 Euroblogs listed on the multilingual blog aggregator, where you find all the new posts on European affairs.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Switzerland: European Union playing seek

Yesterday we looked at some issues between the European Union and Switzerland, but especially for useful information about where the relationship is going. On this count, the own-initiative resolution from the European Parliament was almost the only thing with real informational value unearthed by a quick search: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them: European Union and Switzerland (20 October 2010).

Almost, I said, because I left the public statements by president Herman Van Rompuy and president José Manuel Barroso to this post.

Herman Van Rompuy

Among older news on the EEAS country page for Switzerland we find what president Van Rompuy uttered in public after meeting the president of Switzerland in July:

Remarks by Herman VAN ROMPUY, President of the European Council, following his meeting with Doris LEUTHARD, President of the Swiss confederation; Brussels, 19 July 2010 PCE 169/10

This is what Van Rompuy told the citizens of the European Union after a ‘very fruitful discussion’:

We cover[ed] a lot of ground today. We examined the state of our bilateral relations. More specifically, we have discussed the perspectives for Switzerland’s European integration policy. We have examined the functioning of our relations based on a set of bilateral agreements (more than 120) that unite us. I've expressed [to] the President the importance for these agreements to work well and to be implemented by both sides properly.

We have also discussed how to improve our relations for the future. The EU is convinced on the need to develop the relations with Switzerland on sound legal and political foundations. The EU Council Conclusions of December 2008 laid down the criteria and conditions which must be fulfilled by future negotiations allowing the participation of Switzerland in our internal market and policies.

Such criteria and conditions refer in particular to the acceptance of the evolution of the acquis and its homogeneous interpretation and application.

I know that an important political debate in this regard is taking place in Switzerland, as well as in [the] EU. I've expressed the EU readiness to explore jointly possible solutions to address these questions.

Besides the commonplaces, Van Rompuy left one interesting clue; not to the mandates for ongoing negotiation processes, but a historical reference to Council conclusions from December 2008.

The obvious reference should be the conclusions of the External Relations Council 8 to 9 December 2008, but we come up empty. We fare no better if we check the GAERC General Affairs press release of 8 December 2008. Perhaps it meant the presidency conclusions from the European Council 11 to 12 December 2008? No luck.

'Switzerland' is mentioned in the context of limited issues by the Ecofin Council, the Epsco configuration and the Agriculture and Fisheries formation during December 2008, but I failed to find anything resembling a reset of EU and Swiss relations in general.

The conclusions from the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) 22 February 2010, available through the EEAS country page news, mentioned Lybia’s conflict with Switzerland and the participation of Switzerland in the Media 2007 programme.

I decided not to trawl through the whole ocean of Council documents in order to find something of value about the future relationship between the European Union and Switzerland.

I think I did enough to reach the following conclusion: The EEAS and Council websites are not particularly helpful. Naturally, there are guidelines and mandates, as well as minute records of how the negotiations are going, but not readily accessible.

José Manuel Barroso

Let us look, instead, how matters have advanced in three months. In a speech in Geneva, Commission president José Manuel Barroso gave some indications of what the European Union wishes for the future (in French): Déclaration du Président Barroso au point de presse avec la Conseillère fédérale suisse Micheline Calmy-Rey (14 October 2010, SPEECH/10/558).

We see the will to streamline procedures, and to improve the adoption and application of EU legislation, but how the changes should be brought about is expressed in public with diplomatic lack of precision:

J’ai surtout encouragé l’ouverture continue de la Suisse pour améliorer l’encadrement institutionnel de nos relations.

J’ai signalé à Mme Calmy-Rey l'importance de rendre nos relations et surtout l'application du droit plus dynamiques et plus uniformes pour une meilleure sécurité juridique. Ceci est dans l'intérêt de nos citoyens et de nos entreprises.

Notamment nous devons progresser sur les aspects horizontaux et institutionnels suivants:
• adoption de nouveau acquis et sa mise à jour dynamique
• mise en œuvre uniforme et harmonieuse; surveillance de l'application de l'acquis dans un cadre institutionnel
• adoption de la jurisprudence européenne
• règlement des différends

C'est sur ces questions que nous devons travailler .C'est essentiel pour permettre aux négociations en cours de progresser.

Le marché intérieur est un ensemble cohérent qui ne peut pas être fractionné. Une participation accrue à notre marché intérieur et à nos politiques demande donc l’acceptation par la Suisse de nos règles communes.

Evidemment, ceci doit se faire dans le respect de la souveraineté du peuple suisse. Nous sommes prêts à explorer comment il est possible de réconcilier nos règles du jeu avec la souveraineté suisse et nous pensons que c'est possible, avec imagination, de trouver cette solution.

Barroso’s public comments itemise the issues concerning the adoption of the EU body of (new) law (acquis) and its homogeneous interpretation and application, but they bring little new to light, when we compare them with what Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council had said three months earlier, in July 2010.


Switzerland is surrounded by the European Union, so good and ordered relations are a must, or at least highly desirable for both sides. But the EU has hinted that it is tired of the laborious processes entailed by negotiating one bilateral agreement at a time and then administering and adapting each of the 120 treaties bilaterally every time a legal act is amended or the CJEU has given a new interpretation.

However the information on offer from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Council of the European Union is neither easily accessible nor particularly illuminating, given the importance of the EU-Swiss relations. The European Union is seeking something, but what exactly?

The gap between existing knowledge and readily accessible quality facts is plainly too wide. The public has been left blindfolded.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Paolo Maria Grossholz runs a special kind of blog, called A 12 Stelle (evoking the twelve stars of Europe). It is listed on blogger, but instead of traditional blog posts written by the author it functions by highlighting and linking to practically all press releases from the EU institutions which are of interest to enterprises. For the Milan based blogger Italian is the primary language, but otherwise the English version is chosen. In the end, it works like a useful news ticker for corporations and SMEs.

Since I mentioned the last time, the multilingual aggregator for Euroblogs has added one to its numbers. There are now 676 blogs related to European Union and Council of Europe affairs listed. There is still a need for a few voluntary editors to tag blog posts according to subject. Join the team!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them: European Union and Switzerland

The relations between landlocked Switzerland and the surrounding European Union are special in many respects. Trade, transport, free movement including migration and cross-border work, banking (secrecy) and tax (evasion) are highly visible ingredients. Here are a few background notes in the form of earlier blog posts and an evaluation of what the EU institutions currently offer interested businesses and citizens.

Grahnlaw blog posts

Internal market: Switzerland at the heart of Europe? (2 February 2010)

Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): EFTA member Switzerland outside EEA and EU (3 February 2010).

Switzerland has previously rejected membership in the European Union (EU) as well as in the European Economic Area (EEA), which extends the internal market to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland has concluded a host of bilateral agreements with the EU: EU and Switzerland: Bilateral treaties and challenges (5 February 2010).

Tax matters for Switzerland and the European Union (6 February 2010)

Hot tax row between Germany and Switzerland (7 February 2010)

EU against tax fraud (8 February 2010)


Switzerland is not found among the top items on the front page of the European External Action Service (EEAS) this morning.

The EEAS pages are clear and easy to navigate. It is easy to find the country page for Switzerland, with a few basic facts and links to further sources.

The EU delegation for Switzerland and Liechtenstein in Bern offers additional information about the bilateral relations, in German, French and Italian.

The central EEAS pages are short on information about the important Schengen agreement, implemented since December 2008 (admittedly home affairs). They are also vague with regard to political perspectives and aspirations for the future relationship generally, although there are links to two presidential public appearances during the last months, one by Herman Van Rompuy and the latest one by José Manuel Barroso.

Bilateral treaties

Formally, the Treaties Office of the EU today lists 179 bilateral treaties with Switzerland, although in current discussions about 120 treaties is often mentioned as the existing (real) number.

If we look at fresh Council document references, matters concerning Schengen implementation seem to be the run of the mill cooperation issues between EU and Swiss officials (as well as with those from Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).

More informative from a general point of view is the European Parliament resolution of 7 September 2010 on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market P7_TA-PROV(2010)0300. It is based on an own-initiative report, procedure file INI/2009/2176.


My search was not exhaustive or methodical enough to unearth everything, but an attempt to find materials readily available to assess were the relations are heading. Despite the Barroso and Van Rompuy speeches I did not go into in this blog post, with regard to my objective the European Parliament came out on top, because it actually discusses problems and challenges from an important and a fairly broad perspective: trade and the free movement of services and persons (internal market).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Presseurop is an important resource for people interested in European affairs. It presents itself in the following manner: is a Paris based news website publishing a daily selection of articles chosen from more than 200 international news titles, then translated into ten languages - English, German, French, Spanish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish and Czech.

The multilingual blog aggregator brings European online discussions to a screen in front of you, from 675 EU related blogs. A few more voluntary editors are needed for tagging and selecting posts from the listed Euroblogs.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Europe 2020 strategy leadership and communication: State of the art or lying in state?

The seven flagship initiatives promised by the European Commission under the Europe 2020 (EU2020) strategy were Innovation Union, Youth on the move, A digital agenda for Europe, Resource efficient Europe, An industrial policy for the globalisation era, An agenda for new skills and jobs, and a European platform against poverty. See the blog post: Europe 2020 strategy: Barroso’s reform flotilla (flagship initiatives) (20 June 2010).

During October we have looked at some aspects of the Commission’s grand strategy. For context and your convenience, here they are:

EU: From Monti report to Single Market Act (2 October 2010) [There are other blog posts on the promised internal market reforms – a crucial element - if you are interested.]

EU: “European Semester” towards economic stability and growth? (3 October 2010)

Europe 2020 website: From deplorable to absolute disgrace (4 October 2010)

Europe 2020 Press pack: Better, but still shotgun approach (5 October 2010)

Europe 2020 strategy: Innovation Union (7 October 2010)

Europe 2020 web page(s)

Naturally, we have to make a mandatory stop at the central web page(s) for the Europe 2020 strategy to see if the Commission as a body has taken ownership of its make or break strategy.

Even if we are told that the one short web page was last updated 15 July 2010, a few discreet links have been inserted in the margin.

The 19 July 2010 press release IP/10/966 was there before: €6.4 billion for smart growth and jobs – Europe’s biggest ever investment in research and innovation

News links

Under News, a link to a press release has made its appearance: Youth on the Move – strengthening support to Europe’s young people (15 September 2010, IP/10/1124).

There is also a new link to the press release: The “Innovation Union” – turning ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress (6 October 2010, IP/10/1288).

In the ´plus column´ we can chalk up that the press releases are available in all the official languages, while the defining project for the Commission’s five year term (and the rest of the decade) offers the central web page only in English, French and German.

Document links

Under Documents, we find an unobtrusive link to the Communication from the Commission (although the pdf document did not open when I used the Google Chrome browser, but did when I switched to Internet Explorer):

Youth on the Move - An initiative to unleash the potential of young people to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union; 15 September 2010 COM(2010) 477 final (“print” version with pictures, 26 pages in all)

Under Documents, we also find an unpretentious link to another Communication from the Commission (opening with Google Chrome):

Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union; 6.10.2010 COM(2010) 546 final (no frills version, 44 pages)

For both flagship initiatives you find references to the accompanying SEC documents.

Digital Agenda and other flagship initiatives

The latest explicit links to the Digital Agenda, the flagship initiative first launched, seem to be from 19 May 2010.

There is nothing in express works words about the flagships soon to be launched, nor on activities in the member states (at central, regional or local level).

EU2020 Press pack

The Europe 2020 strategy Press pack has been enriched by a few disjointed press releases and speeches, valuable as such, but far from putting things into perspective as regards the EU2020 strategy as a whole.


There have been improvements in the margins – literally – through the links under News and Documents, but Barroso’s reform flotilla seems to lack an Admiral to set the course and Head Communicator to steer, by creating a sense of purpose internally and by conveying the message to the member states and EU citizens. There is, of course, nothing inviting discussion and interaction.

Individually, the Captains (Commissioners) of the different ships – “Digital”, “Youth” and “Innovation” – steer their own course. They show leadership and communication skills. They are pioneers in the use of social media among the Commission services. Their itineraries have to be traced one by one, however.

Nothing can, however, compensate for the lack of overall direction and comprehensive communication. If this continues, you will have me longing for the economic “dynamism” of the Brezhnev years in the late Soviet Union as a source of inspiration (source: Wikipedia).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. A small, but dynamic team of journalists on European affairs can be found on Twitter @Europa451. Fernando Navarro, Jean-Sébastien Lefebvre, Julie Gonce and Francesca Barca write and collaborate to distribute articles on their European blog through websites in French, Spanish and Italian. The contents are similar, but not exact copies.

The Europa451 collective is doing a great job, with the Spanish blog the most active during the last seven days.

The number of Euroblogs is still on the increase. There are now 675 blogs on European Union and Council of Europe affairs listed on the multilingual blog aggregator A few more voluntary editors are needed to get the daily posts tagged. Join the team and see Europe in all its splendour and misery!

Monday 18 October 2010

Blogging in Swedish and Finnish

Call it self-referential, a holy or unholy mess or whatever, but I am going to take a look at my blogs in Swedish and Finnish. Here are a few facts and thoughts about my three blogs here on Blogger: Grahnlaw, Grahnblawg and Eurooppaoikeus

With 1,884 entries to date, Grahnlaw has clearly been my main focus. However, sometimes I feel that I should write more in Finnish and Swedish. During October I have been a little bit more active publishing on Grahnblawg in Swedish and on Eurooppaoikeus in Finnish.


I have written a few entries in Swedish on Grahnblawg about the Commission’s internal market priorities, advance information about Council meetings (in this case the Competitiveness Council), the free movement of persons (citizenship), migration and integration (Finland and Sweden) and the Single Market Act soon to be proposed.


My themes in Finnish on Eurooppaoikeus have been similar: internal market priorities, the application of EU law, statistics on applications for residence permit in Finland, the internal market awaiting reform proposals, as well as integration and employment for migrants (new government bill).

All in all, my blogs here on Blogger are related, but not exact clones. The Swedish and Finnish blogs will deal with EU affairs, but also with matters concerning work and entrepreneurship for “natives”, mobile EU citizens and migrants.

Ralf Grahn

Application of blogs to EU law: Jaanika Erne and Martinned

Here on Grahnlaw we have discussed various aspects of EU legislation, more or less related to the Report from the Commission:

27th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2009); Brussels 1.10.2010 COM(2010) 538 final (12 pages)

Here is a reminder of the related blog posts:

How much EU law is there? Smart regulation and impact assessments (13 October 2010)

Smart Regulation in the European Union (14 October 2010)

How much EU legislation in member state UK? Nosemonkey and House of Commons Library (15 October 2010)

Full-bodied EU acquis – the bouquet of EU English (16 October 2010)

Jaanika Erne

On her Ideas on Europe blog, Jaanika Erne has now done readers the service of writing a clear summary of what the Commission actually reported: 27th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of EU Law (2009) (17 October 2010).

Erne's summary highlights the resolution of infringement procedures at different stages, as well as statistics on new petitions by policy area.

More generally Jaanika Erne’s blog is worth following for its treatment of issues of legal education (University of Tartu, Estonia and Europe), human rights in Europe (ECHR and ECtHR) and EU legislative procedures.


If legal blogs are suspected of seriousness, Martinned does not walk away scot-free, but blogs have their distinct personalities, and Martinned has its personal style.

Martinned manages to squeeze This Week in Luxembourg (14 October 2010) into about one snappy page, but with helpful links for those who thirst for more.

Among the legal Euroblogs on, Martinned is one of the few active blogs in its important niche right now: the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

A distinct style and a clear niche – not a bad recipe for a blog.

Ralf Grahn

Saturday 16 October 2010

Mathew Lowry and Michael Malherbe improving Mediacafé?

The well intentioned Brussels event Mediacafé “Europe: no medium, no message?” on 18 October 2010 may actually become a better event, if the organisers and panellists take care to read and reflect on the blog post by Mathew Lowry and the comments: Oh, so it’s the media’s fault noone likes the EU … (15 October 2010).

Add a few salient points by Michael Malherbe on Se former à la communication européenne in: Que fait l’UE pour adapter sa communication à l’Internet mobile ? (13 October 2010).

A few more blog entries to peruse on both blogs, for those with the time and inclination, and some constructive thoughts might start to surface, possibly even a few with relevance for 501 million EU citizens, most of them mentally and geographically far from the “Brussels Bubble”.

It is never too late to start imagining a better life, but online media, social media, mobile media and professional journalism are all part of it, even with regard to communication by the EU institutions.

Ralf Grahn

Full-bodied EU acquis – the bouquet of EU English

Yesterday’s blog post noted that between 2008 and 2009 the body of European Union legislation had decreased by some 2060 regulations and 80 directives: How much EU legislation in member state UK? Nosemonkey and House of Commons Library (15 October 2010).

As I said, the pure numbers tell us little about the impact or influence of EU legislation.

Since then, I thought about a few trivial or arcane details.

First of all, why did I insert the insider term ‘acquis communautaire’ after referring to the EU statute book? Second, why ‘communautaire’ when the Communities (except for Euratom) have disappeared, through the preordained ‘death’ of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and the European Community (EC) having been amalgamated into the European Union by the Lisbon Treaty? Third, why use the French term in English and other EU languages?

EU dictionary IATE

One of the excellent EU resources is the IATE website (InterActive Terminology for Europe), an online dictionary between all the official languages of the European Union. My impression is that the website is little known outside the circles of language professionals, such as translators, interpreters and lawyer-linguists, even if many officials, communicators, journalists, students and others who deal with issues of substance would need the services at times.

Why not bookmark the page?

Using French as the source language IATE offered a number of English translations, which varied according to the context. Among them were Acquis Communautaire, the body of EU law, Community acquis, body of existing Community legislation and practice, (adoption of the) acquis communautaire.

In short, there were more translations using the French term than a description in English: the body of EU law, or body of existing Community legislation and practice.

One lesson might be to use a description in plain language whenever we can.

Community method RIP

In a series of blog posts I discussed the obsolete term “Community method” recently used by leading EU politicians (here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

I ended up favouring the “Federal method” to replace the antiquated term, because it had more teeth. The European Citizen preferred “Union method”, Simon Blackley proposed the “ordinary decision process” and Eurogoblin would have been happy to stick with the “Community method” or even endured the “Union method”, as long as the word “Federal” could be kept in confinement on Ventotene, or somewhere.

Why on Earth, after so much discussion about the obsolescence of the term “Community” (except in a historical context) did I make even a fleeting mention of the word “communautaire”?

Intellectual sloth is the only explanation I can come up with. Please, accept my apologies.

“Acquis” in English and other EU languages

The “acquis communautaire” has its place in a historical context, but when we deal with contemporary issues even the French could start referring to the “UE acquis”.

If issues of word count matter, and in the playpens of Brussels insiders, the “EU acquis” (or the comparable expression in the relevant language) could replace the antiquated term.

IMHO the “EU statute book” I used was not bad as a colloquial expression, given the circumstances: the number of legal acts (regulations and directives).

However, the “body of EU law” is wider than the sum of legal acts. Therefore, I find that it is a short and good description in many cases.

The longer “body of existing Community EU legislation and practice” makes the scope clearer. Sometimes we may want to add “jurisprudence” or “case law” to the description to make it even more evident.

When we have room to explain matters to readers or listeners, we could sometimes opt for the “body of EU legislation, practice and case law” or a comparable expression in another language.

Now my next question: Is this a sane way to spend one’s Saturday morning? Please, no spam solicitations from headshrinkers (even if it would balance the extension type of cures abundantly on offer), but perhaps some people interested in languages could comment.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Speaking about languages, the multilingual blog aggregator offers you an opportunity to read up on European affairs (EU and Council of Europe) and improve your language skills.

The Euroblogger Vihar Georgiev is a productive writer on EU law and politics. In addition he is one of the relatively few Central and Eastern Europeans visible for blog readers in the old member states, and he does his share of multilingualism by blogging in English on European Union Law and its Bulgarian sister blog. He is also active on Twitter @vihargg.

Friday 15 October 2010

How much EU legislation in member state UK? Nosemonkey and House of Commons Library

On 13 October 2010 the European Parliament awarded its journalism prizes to for excellent media work on Europe. Among the four categories, the prize for Internet journalism went to the Euroblog pioneer James Clive-Matthews, also known as Nosemonkey.

You can read the winning blog post: What percentage of laws come from the EU? (2 June 2009)

On the very day of the award ceremony in the European Parliament, across the Channel the House of Commons Library informed subscribers about the publication of its research paper 10/62, which presents a reworked view on the role of EU laws in Britain:

How much legislation comes from Europe? (13 October 2010; 59 pages)

This fits nicely with the EU law theme, or more narrowly EU business regulation, we have been looking at on Grahnlaw, in the blog posts How much EU law is there? Smart regulation and impact assessments (13 October 2010) and Smart Regulation in the European Union (14 October 2010).

The summary conclusion of the UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 10/62 is (page 1):

Using statistics from national law databases and the EU’s EUR-Lex database, it is possible to estimate the proportion of national laws based on EU laws. In the UK data from these sources provided estimates that suggest that over the twelve-year period from 1997 to 2009 6.8% of primary legislation (Statutes) and 14.1% of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) had a role in implementing EU obligations, although the degree of involvement varied from passing reference to explicit implementation. Sectoral studies suggest that the agriculture forms the highest area of EU influence and defence the lowest. The British Government estimates that around 50% of UK legislation with a significant economic impact originates from EU legislation.

Besides the indicative numbers (percentages) the study is interesting due to its discussion about the difficulties of quantitative comparisons and especially qualitative assessments of the influence of EU legislation on national law-making.

The various aspects and uncertainties covered make the Research Paper into an educational tool for those who are interested in various forms of EU level decision-making and interaction with the national level, naturally in the United Kingdom, but also elsewhere: in EU member states Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium, as well as non-EU states Norway and Iceland.

The Research Paper refers to popular (mis)conceptions and often repeated quotes, including Euromyths, as well as a host of studies which have tried to uncover both percentages and influences of EU law in the member states.


The frontlines in the debate about EU impact have not always been clear-cut. Opponents of the European Union (euphemistically called eurosceptics) have decried the “intrusiveness” of EU legislation, whereas pro-European may have exaggerated the importance of the EU.

It looks clear that the proportion of EU legislation is much smaller if we look at all areas of legislation than if we study policy sectors affecting businesses.

There are also huge differences between EU policy areas. The common agricultural policy (CAP) affects farmers and the common fisheries policy (CFP) fishermen, whereas defence is almost exempt from legislation derived from the EU.

I recommend reading the House of Commons Library Research Paper 10/62, which offers a wide range of studies and opinions on these questions.

I am going to add only a few more comments on certain details.

After Nosemonkey’s blog post and as part of the following discussion, I presented a summary of the findings of Yves Bertoncini in the Grahnlaw entry How much law is EU law? (6 June 2009). The Research Paper offers more details on Bertoncini’s study, on page 8 and pages 31-32.

The Library Research Paper refers to the European Commission’s 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of Community Law (2008) (page 8):

“At the end of 2008, the rules of the Treaty were supplemented by some 8,200 regulations and just under 1,900 directives in force throughout the 27 Member States”.

There are now updated figures, because just before the publication of the Research Paper, the latest annual report was published on 1 October 2010, as noted in my 13 October blog post:

27th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2009); Brussels, 1.10.2010 COM(2010) 538 final (12 pages)

If we compare the reports, we can see that the numbers of regulations and directives have fallen significantly during 2009 (page 2). First the quote in question:

At the end of 2009, EU law comprised, apart from the rules of the Treaty, some 6140 regulations and just under 1820 directives in force throughout the 27 Member States.

The number of regulations has decreased by about 2060 and there are around 80 directives less than a year earlier.

Again, the pure numbers tell us little about the impact of EU legislation. The institutions of the European Union have pursued a “better regulation” agenda and a “better lawmaking” agenda. Obsolete legal acts have been taken off the statute book (acquis communautaire). Simplification exercises have resulted in recast acts, which can integrate two or more narrower acts. Some of the disappearances are more technical than substantial, even if more comprehensive acts add ease of use, as do consolidated or updated versions.

There have also been real efforts to “cut red tape”, but a more detailed look at the different simplification measures goes beyond the purpose of this blog post.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Eurogoblin, one of the editorial team of the multilingual blog aggregator, has started experimenting with a daily EU Morning Briefing, which mixes events with personal comments. Worth following.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Smart Regulation in the European Union

Yesterday we looked at the number of EU regulations and directives. We also made some general remarks about the benefits of business regulation at EU level, the regulatory burden versus potential benefits, and the better regulation agenda of the European Commission, including the recent evaluation of impact assessments: How much EU law is there? Smart regulation and impact assessments (13 October 2010).

We turn to the Smart Regulation Communication from the Commission, available on the Better regulation pages (but not on Eur-Lex):

Smart Regulation in the European Union; Brussels, 8.10.2010 COM(2010) 543 final (11 pages)

The Communication is available in German “Intelligente Regulierung” and in French “Une réglementation intelligente”.

“Moses” Barroso?

The introduction discusses the lack of regulation as a cause for the financial, economic and sovereign debt crises, newish policy objectives, such as financial stability and climate change, as well as the costs of a fragmented single market. On the other hand, it duly remembers the importance of businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth envisioned by the Europe 2020 strategy, so the regulatory burden has to be limited to what is strictly necessary.

No wonder that Commission president José Manuel Barroso has taken upon himself to lead the European Union from the Egypt of better regulation to the Promised Land of smart regulation.

Key messages

The key messages are (page 3):

First, smart regulation is about the whole policy cycle - from the design of a piece of legislation, to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and revision. We must build on the strengths of the impact assessment system for new legislation. But we must match this investment with similar efforts to manage and implement the body of existing legislation to ensure that it delivers the intended benefits. This requires a greater awareness by all actors of the fact that implementing existing legislation properly and amending it in the light of experience is as important as the new legislation we put on the table.

Second, smart regulation must remain a shared responsibility of the European institutions and of Member States. These actors have made varied progress, and the Commission will continue to work with them to ensure that the agenda is actively pursued by all. This must be accompanied by a greater recognition that smart regulation is not an end in itself. It must be an integral part of our collective efforts in all policy areas.

Third, the views of those most affected by regulation have a key role to play in smart regulation. The Commission has made great strides in opening its policy making to stakeholders. This can also be taken a step further and the Commission will lengthen the period for its consultations, and carry out a review of its consultation processes to see how to strengthen the voice of citizens and stakeholders further. This will help to put into practice the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on participatory democracy.

Here are some remarks on the first key message, which concerns mainly EU level action.

Evaluating existing legislation

One of the points in the first key message was the emphasis on evaluating the costs and benefits of existing EU legislation. Initial steps have been taken with regard to public procurement, professional qualifications and working conditions, but this approach has to become an integral part of smart regulation. Especially the member states have untapped opportunities to simplify legislation and to reduce regulatory burdens (page 4).

The Commission promises more comprehensive evaluations of whole policy areas, so called fitness checks, as opposed to individual legal acts (page 4-5).

“Fitness checks” have been launched in 2010 for areas in environment, transport, employment/social policy and industrial policy. This will be extended to other policy areas in 2011 on the basis of these experiences (page 5).

Impact assessments

The Commission underlines the importance of impact assessments and the work done by the Impact Assessment Board (IAB), and it refers to the evaluation made by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The Commission rejects an outside body to control impact assessments as an infringement of its prerogatives, but it promises to improve consultation processes.

After guidance on social impacts, the Commission intends to improve the assessment of impacts on fundamental rights.

The Commission admits that impact assessments should quantify costs and benefits, but it refers to the difficulties in quantifying national implementation measures (pages 6-7).


The sections on shared responsibilities between EU institutions and the opportunities for national authorities are worth reading. The Commission is going to extend the consultation period for proposals to twelve weeks, in order to give stakeholders and citizens more time to react. A progress report on the smart regulation agenda is promised during the second half of 2012.

Marketplace of ideas

My impression is that the ‘smart regulation’ agenda builds on good experiences, and it envisions sensible improvements.

However, there still seems to be too little quality discussion in public between the EU and national levels and various stakeholders, both business and wider societal interests. The Commission’s promise to improve consultations is a step in the right direction, but the other players need to open up as well and be less reliant on quiet lobbying.

In part they already communicate actively online, but mainly unidirectionally on their own websites. Perhaps the interest groups (stakeholders) should become more engaged in the public marketplace of ideas, participating in online discussions through social media.

It is increasingly hard to find European enterprises, public authorities or interest groups outside the public marketplace of ideas, without an active social media presence. Few of them are untouched by politics and policies at European Union level.

Politics, policies, economics and law at EU level are becoming more important in a globalising world, at least if Europeans still want to weigh in, instead of member states being picked off like clay pigeons.

EU-related blogs are a significant aspect of the emerging European online public space. There are now 673 Euroblogs, or blogs related to European Union and Council of Europe) affairs, listed on, the multilingual aggregator. There is still room for professional quality blogging on various aspects of EU politics and policies.

As a reader, you can take a look at the stream of all new posts, or follow the editors’ choices on the front page. You can also subscribe to the streams (all or highlighted) and the newsletters (daily or weekly) without cost. needs a few more voluntary editors for the daily tagging of posts according to subjects. Why not increase your understanding of European affairs, improve your language skills and do something useful by joining the team of editors?

Ralf Grahn

Wednesday 13 October 2010

How much EU law is there? Smart regulation and impact assessments

Quantity and quality are different things, but the European Commission offers an approximate answer to the question how many legal acts there are with European Union origin.

This detail is found in the Report from the Commission:

27th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2009); Brussels, 1.10.2010 COM(2010) 538 final (12 pages)

Quantity of EU regulation

The numbers won’t end discussions about how “intrusive” or expensive EU regulation is, or on the other hand how far away the more than 50 year old ex common market, now officially the internal market, is from the ideal of a seamlessly functioning single market.

However, even the detail about the number of legal acts on the EU statute book has some relevance. This is what the report tells us on page 2:

At the end of 2009, EU law comprised, apart from the rules of the Treaty, some 6140 regulations and just under 1820 directives in force throughout the 27 Member States.

Quality of EU regulation

The basic argument in favour of EU level regulation is that businesses have to contend with one set of red tape instead of 27, or 30 when we take the European Economic Area (EEA) into account.

There are external aspects as well. Internal market standards for a fairly rich EEA with about 506 million consumers set ‘de facto’ norms for businesses elsewhere. In short, if third country enterprises want to export to the EU, they have to achieve European product standards. In international trade negotiations the common commercial policy potentially gives the European Union clout way beyond what a member state could hope to achieve on its own.

Some of those who are wedded to ‘light touch regulation’ tend to forget that rules and standards are intended to protect people: life, health, safety at work, consumer protection. As an ideology, a race to the bottom is not exempt from dangers for the common good.

This still leaves open the question of the costs versus benefits of regulation. If we care for both businesses and wider societal effects, we have to search for answers in a more pragmatic and evidence-based manner than through pure ideology.

It is fairly easy to demonstrate the gross or even net contributions of member states to the budget of the European Union. It is more difficult to quantify the costs of EU regulation compared to the alternative, national norm-setting, or the savings for the national economies and businesses through joint regulation at continental level. - The alternative is not EU regulation or no regulation (and regulatory burden).

Anyone who proposes ‘freely cooperating, sovereign nation states’ as an alternative should study the common market as long as its progress was ruled by unanimity. Without supra-national decision-making there would be no real common market (even in the imperfect form of today).

The European Union is not totally deaf to criticism. “Better regulation” has long been one of those activities, which are little noticed by the wider public, but extremely important for both enterprises and EU citizens.

Smart regulation updates

“Smart regulation” is now the Commission’s preferred term for the “better regulation” agenda. The European Commission regularly reports on progress in this area.

For a quick overview, you can read the fresh press release from the Commission, available in 22 languages:

Smart regulation: ensuring that European laws benefit people and businesses; 8 October 2010 IP/10/1296

Impact assessments

The press release from the Commission followed on the heels of a report, where the Court of Auditors evaluated the impact assessment system. The Commission’s welcoming words can be found in another press release, also available in 22 languages:

Impact assessments improve the Commission's policy-making. Commission welcomes positive report by the European Court of Auditors; 28 September 2010 IP/10/1187

If you suspect the Commission of favourable spin, you may want to read the ECA’s own press release for comparison:

Press release 28 September 2010 ECA/10/19: Special report: Impact Assessments in the EU institutions: do they support decision-making?

Impact assessments are important challenges for national authorities, as well as for institutions and bodies at European level. If you find impact assessments worth deeper study, you can access the ECA Special report No 3/2010 (28 September 2010):

Impact assessments in the EU institutions: Do they support decision-making? (76 pages)

The ECA press release and the full report seem to be available in English, French and German.

Smart regulation communication

Those who want more on better or smart regulation can head towards the Commission’s well structured Better regulation web pages (although the latest documents have not always been added to the various pages).

Primary sources are better than secondary ones, so we set our course for the latest communication from the Commission.

Since the search among COM documents on Eur-Lex tells us that COM(2010) 543 is not available in English (=not posted), we have to be content with the English, French or German version available through the Key documents page under Better regulation. Here for the English language version of the Communication from the Commission:

Smart Regulation in the European Union; Brussels, 8.10.2010 COM(2010) 543 final (11 pages)

The Communication on smart regulation offers an updated view of efforts to improve the quality of regulation in and by the European Union. The document references make it a helpful source for those who want to get to grips with regulation policy at EU level in general, or delve into particular aspects.


We have not reached a conclusive answer on the right amount of EU regulation, but we are offered the chance to become confused at a higher level.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Grahnlaw welcomes comments relevant to the topic discussed in each blog post. However, the number of spam comments keeps skyrocketing. It is more difficult and time-consuming to eliminate them ‘ex post’ than to prevent them ‘ex ante’ (even this, a dreary chore). Here is the sad reason for comment moderation, so it may take a while before your valued facts and opinions appear.

It is easier to understand a language than to use it correctly. As Eurobloggers we could and should promote interaction among Europeans across linguistic and national borders. We can link to blogs and other sources in foreign languages. We can share different viewpoints with our readers, perhaps explaining the gist of the arguments.

If you are a reader, check out The multilingual blog aggregator helps you become better informed about the European Union and the Council of Europe, and it offers you a fun way to improve your language skills.

Euroblogs can invite comments in different languages; those we are able to read, or the ones we understand the essentials of by using machine translation (bad, but fast and improving; often better into English than into other languages).

Grahnlaw has adopted a multilingual comment policy:

I do my best to read comments in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish, even if the Grahnlaw blog and my possible replies are in English.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Improve information about EU citizens’ rights!

Ensuring correct implementation of the Citizens Directive 2004/38 by all EU member states has proven to be a tough task for the European Commission (brief background history in Swedish).

The Directive 2004/38 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States is mentioned only once in the twelve pages of the Commission’s 27th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2009); Brussels, 1.10.2010 COM(2010) 538 final:

Following the Metock judgment [C-127/08], guidelines were discussed in the expert group on the application of Directive 2004/38 before the launch of a programme of bilateral meetings with all Member States on the transposition of EU rules on free movement of citizens and their family members.

Commission staff documents missing

We saw that the monitoring report from the Commission was accompanied by two SEC documents. However, if you search for SEC(2010) 1143 or 1144 under SEC documents on Eur-Lex, you get the less than helpful reply ‘Not available in English’.

I wonder: Why has the Commission posted only the brief overview, but omitted the ‘beef’, which is contained in the detailed annexes?

EP Legislative observatory Oeil

Even the Legislative observatory Oeil of the European Parliament does not list the accompanying documents with the report from the Commission COM(2010) 538 in the customary manner, but if we are resilient enough to search for the annexes separately we actually find what we are looking for.

Searching should be easier.

Sector by sector analysis

We find a hefty 512 page document with more detailed analysis sector by sector, a treasure trove for researchers and lawyers:

Commission staff working document: Situation in the different sectors; Brussels, 1.10.2010 SEC(2010) 1143 final; 512 pages.

There are numerous references to the sad state of implementation of Directive 2004/38. I am going to quote just two examples.

The first one is in section Report on progress made in 2009 regarding free movement of workers (on page 62):

The Commission services have received many queries and complaints concerning the residence rights of migrant workers in the host Member State. It is still partly due to the fact that in May 2006, Directive 2004/38/EC effectively entered into force and introduced new residence formalities and some important new rights (such as the right of permanent residence). With a view to ensuring the respect of the provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC, the Commission services have been organising bilateral contacts with Member States to make sure that the Directive is correctly transposed and applied across the EU.

My second example is in the section 14.6. Free movement of persons (from page 439, the quote from the following page), where the Commission indicates the state of free movement of persons:

In 2009, the Commission continued to deal with a large number of enquiries and complaints in the area of free movement of persons – 1000 were replied in 2009 compared with 1070 in 2008. Complaints management was also a significant part of ensuring full and proper implementation of Directive 2004/38/EC. In 2009, 205 complaints were registered with the Secretariat-General (compared with 81 registered in 2008).

There were 37 written EP questions and 36 petitions in the area of free movement of persons in 2009.

Statistical annex

The other accompanying document is (part of?) a statistical annex, with 118 pages of detailed information about procedures:

Commission staff working document: Statistical annex - Annexes I to III (Volume 1); Brussels, 1.10.2010 SEC(2010) 1144 final


The Commission and the European Parliament should do more to inform about problems concerning the implementation of EU law, and to foster debate on these issues. This includes the enforcement of the rights of EU citizens and their families to free movement and residence.

I hope that the European Parliament takes a close look at citizens’ rights when it starts to evaluate the report on the application of EU law in 2009.

In mid October 2010 we are still looking at a report regarding 2009, however forward-looking the Commission has tried to make it.

There is a need for more timely information. The Commission has an opportunity to show its dedication to citizens’ rights, including Directive 2004/38, when it communicates its actions with regard to Paris and the other capitals.

The new Directorate-General Justice has formally updated its web pages, but the newsroom and the other pages are still more burdened by history than filled with complete and updated information. You have to go to the pages of justice commissioner Viviane Reding, which are more up to date (see News, Press releases and Speeches), but there are still many cracks between the floor boards.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Nowadays it is increasingly hard to find European enterprises, public authorities or interest groups without an active social media presence, or a stake in European Union affairs. Politics, policies, economics and law at a EU level are becoming more important in a globalising world, at least if Europeans still want to weigh in.

EU-related blogs are a significant aspect of the emerging European online public space. There are now 673 Euroblogs, or blogs related to European Union (and Council of Europe) affairs, listed on, the multilingual aggregator.

You can take a look at the stream of all new posts, or follow the editors’ choices on the front page. You can also subscribe to the streams (all or highlighted) and the newsletters (daily or weekly) without cost. needs a few more voluntary editors for the daily tagging of posts according to subjects. Why not increase your understanding of European affairs, improve your language skills and do something useful by joining the team of editors?

EU: Preventing human rights infringements – CEPS proposal

In a research paper from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) on the French Roma affair, the authors made an interesting proposal to strengthen human rights monitoring in the European Union. See:

Sergio Carrera and Anaïs Faure Atger: L’Affaire des Roms - A Challenge to the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe, September 2010; 20 pages).

The researchers demonstrated the weakness and slowness of the existing ‘ex post’ enforcement procedures. In order to prevent further damage, the authors proposed a new mechanism to stop suspected violations (page 17):

The EU should therefore develop a new (preventive) enforcement mechanism that would complement the existing ones (the infringement and the fundamental rights proceedings). This procedure would be primarily destined to ensure that contested national policies and practices falling within the remits of EU law and fundamental rights (and applying exceptions and/or derogations to European rights and freedoms) would be immediately ‘frozen’ while the formal opening of infringement or fundamental rights proceedings would be still be considered and/or under study by the relevant services of the European institutions. For such an ex ante procedure to ensure its full effectiveness, careful attention should be paid at times of ensuring its overall objectivity, impartiality and accountability. It would also be necessary that the opening of the procedure would not only lie in the hands of the Commission, but that the latter could be also launched on the initiative of the European Parliament.

On page 18 Carrera and Faure Atger added some thoughts about this injunction-like freezing procedure, which would build on documented violations of citizens’ rights:

The new freezing enforcement procedure would be activated through the existence of ‘evidence’ provided (for instance) by the European Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) along with its Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) of Non-Governmental Organizations, which could be also tasked ‘to alert’ any suspected breaches of EU law and fundamental rights by EU member states. The next step would be the revision by the FRA of the pertinence of such allegations before a formal activation is put to the EU institutions. The existence of this EU-wide network for cooperation and information exchange set to act as the main channel for the FRA to engage civil society would enable an EU-wide coverage of the implementation of EU law in an enlarged EU. They could thus be responsible for informing/alerting if a violation of fundamental rights or EU law is suspected. The involvement of a network of independent experts who can be consulted quickly to present a report in relevant member states should also be another initiative to be considered in the implementation of such a procedure.

I noted this interesting proposal in a blog post yesterday: EU citizenship: France’s Roma expulsions documented by CEPS (11 October 2010).

There have been positive reactions from two Eurobloggers I value.

The writer of The European Citizen blog, Eurocentric (Conor Slowey) commented on my blog post. According to him, giving the European Parliament resolutions more force when it comes to breaching EU citizen rights could be a good step to ensure that EU citizenship rights are more effectively enforced (and in a timely manner).

However, how to improve enforcement caused Eurocentric some concern. Perhaps an independent Citizenship Ombudsman for monitoring citizenship rights across the EU might be a better way to ensure independent action.

In the blog post CEPS Proposes Freezing Enforcement Procedure (11 October 2010), Vihar Georgiev on the European Union Law blog presented a favourable initial reaction to the preventive mechanism.

As part of the Brussels Festival des libertés, the think tank CEPS and the ENACT research project (Enacting European citizenship) arrange a public debate On the margins of European citizenship, on 27 October 2010. This discussion may present an opportunity to address the weakness and lack of timeliness of existing procedures for monitoring the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Hopefully, we will see other reactions to the proposed freezing procedure by then.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Nowadays it is increasingly hard to find European enterprises, public authorities or interest groups without an active social media presence, or a stake in European Union affairs. Politics, policies, economics and law at a EU level are becoming more important in a globalising world, at least if Europeans still want to weigh in.

EU-related blogs are a significant aspect of the emerging European online public space. There are now 672 673 Euroblogs, or blogs related to European Union (and Council of Europe) affairs, listed on, the multilingual aggregator.

You can take a look at the stream of all new posts, or follow the editors’ choices on the front page. You can also subscribe to the streams (all or highlighted) and the newsletters (daily or weekly) without cost. needs a few more voluntary editors for the daily tagging of posts according to subjects. Why not increase your understanding of European affairs, improve your language skills and do something useful by joining the team of editors?

Monday 11 October 2010

EU citizenship: France’s Roma expulsions documented by CEPS

France’s expulsion of Roma shows that the rights of EU citizens are still in a formative phase, and issues of scope and exceptions concern other mobile Europeans as well.

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) has published a welcome research paper on the French Roma affair:

Sergio Carrera and Anaïs Faure Atger: L’Affaire des Roms - A Challenge to the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe, September 2010)

One of the important contributions is that the authors document the pronouncements and actions of the French government in detail. This is enough to make the paper a valuable reference tool for all interested, but it offers more.

Carrera and Faure Atger also present how the other players have acted, including the tardy and initially weak response by the European Commission, the ‘guardian of the Treaties’.

The paper reveals the weaknesses of the current EU law monitoring system, and it argues that the current ‘ex post’ enforcement tools are ineffective in halting breaches of EU fundamental rights. In cases like the Roma expulsions the European Union needs an ‘ex ante’ freezing order, which could be launched by the European Parliament, not only the Commission.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Nowadays it is increasingly hard to find European enterprises, public authorities or interest groups without an active social media presence, or a stake in European Union affairs. Politics, policies, economics and law at a EU level are becoming more important in a globalising world, at least if Europeans still want to weigh in.

EU-related blogs are a significant aspect of the emerging European online public space. There are now 672 Euroblogs, or blogs related to European Union (and Council of Europe) affairs, listed on, the multilingual aggregator.

You can take a look at the stream of all new posts, or follow the editors’ choices on the front page. You can also subscribe to the streams (all or highlighted) and the newsletters (daily or weekly) without cost. needs a few more voluntary editors for the daily tagging of posts according to subjects. Why not increase your understanding of European affairs, improve your language skills and do something useful by joining the team of editors?