Monday 29 November 2010

Concrete benefits to EU citizens on the move

After the general press release available in 22 EU languages and mentioned in the previous blog post, we turn to how the European Commission presented its reform package for citizens' rights in more detail (only in English):

European Commission adopts plan to bring concrete benefits to EU citizens on the move; Brussels, 27 October 2010, MEMO/10/525

The Commission referred to the citizenship report by Alain Lamassoure MEP (which I have presented earlier on my blogs) before offering a few figures about the issues:

In 2009, about 11.9 million EU citizens were living outside their home Member State. The number of complaints and enquiries that the Commission receives from citizens every year is rising: in 2009 the Europe Direct Contact Centre received 25,721 enquires on cross-border issues, including travelling, buying and selling, studying, working and living in other Member States. Today's plan responds to many of these concerns.

As we see, almost 12 million EU citizens live in a permanent cross-border situation, whereas huge numbers make more or less brief 'visits', through business or leisure travel, by being posted abroad for a limited time, or through online buying.

The Commission presented examples of five reform initiatives, concerning car registration, cross-border healthcare and Ehealth technologies, consular protection, package travel, and improving information for EU citizens.

The Commission then offered brief outlines of 25 planned actions to improve the daily life of EU citizens.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Part of the BBC's coverage of EU affairs, Gavin Hewitt's Europe is one of the “must read” Euroblogs in English.

Improving cross-border rights for EU citizens

A month ago, Michel Barnier and Viviane Reding chose to join forces to launch reforms in order to improve the internal market and citizens' rights. The joint press release from the European Commission offers an overview (and it is available in 22 EU languages):

European Commission sets out plans to strengthen the Single Market with measures to boost growth and enhance citizens’ rights; Brussels, 27 October 2010, IP/10/1390

The two members of the Commission found a common theme when they stated that businesses and citizens know that hurdles still exist when they exercise their rights.

Cross-border rights

The Commission promised 25 measures to improve the rights of EU citizens. Before we go into details, here are the main points:

The first-ever EU Citizenship Report looks at everyday problems faced by citizens when they exercise their EU rights and extend aspects of their lives beyond national borders: when they travel, study, work, get married, buy a house or car in another EU country. The report includes 25 measures the Commission plans to take in the next three years to make life easier for European citizens:

Tourists/ Expatriates: The Commission will update the rules protecting holiday makers from, for example, bankruptcy of their travel provider during their holiday (IP/09/1824). The Commission will also propose additional ways to strengthen the rights of passengers in all modes of transport and enforce the rights of air passengers (e.g. in case of long delays and cancellations).The Commission will further reinforce the right to consular protection for EU citizens whose home Member State is not represented in third countries, by strengthening the legal framework and increasing awareness among citizens and consular officials.

Consumers: the Commission will help consumers get redress if they have problems with a trader, by facilitating the fast and inexpensive out-of-court resolution of disputes across borders, through the promotion of alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Couples: the Commission will propose legislation to make it easier for international couples to know which courts have jurisdiction and which country's law applies to their jointly owned house or bank accounts.

Workers: the Commission is developing a new system of electronic exchange of information between national administrations so as to make it simpler and quicker for people working in another EU country to transfer their social security rights.

Car owners: the Commission will propose legislation to simplify the paperwork and formalities for the registration of cars bought in another EU country and will address cases in which citizens are required to pay registration tax twice.

In the near future posts on my blogs will look at individual documents and proposals regarding EU citizens. Only later will we (re)turn to internal market reform.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. 'Democracy and accountability at all levels of government' is the motto of the Federal Union. Federalism at the European level is consequently one of the themes for the Federal Union Blog, which strives to be a voice of learning and reason.

Thursday 25 November 2010


This Thursday, 25 November 2010, is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a national holiday.

Often enough I have criticised the Commission's lack of leadership and dedicated communication with regard to its grand Europe 2020 (EU2020) growth strategy.

Let this Thanksgiving be the day I trumpet that, perhaps two weeks ago, the Commission finally launched a collection of web pages worthy of the role of Europe 2020 in its planned activities.

Let us hope that the Commission will keep updating and integrating the new materials from ”Brussels” and the member states.

EU2020 is what we have, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till 2020.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Norway remains as resolutely outside the European Union as it stays inside the European Economic Area (EEA). Written by a number of journalists, follows EU events through Norwegian eyes. Recommended reading.

European value added - EU General Affairs Council style

Where did we leave the EU's General Affairs Council (GAC)?

Potentially influential, but sandwiched in between the other Council configurations and the European Council, largely with the wrong participants based on redundant thinking in many capitals and with conclusions of anaemic pallor: EU General Affairs Council has taken note – So have we (24 November 2010).

Commission Work Programme for 2011

We return to the provisional conclusions of the GAC:

Press release, 3047th Council meeting, General Affairs, Brussels, 22 November 2010 (document 16572/10)

In addition to the English version, the GAC conclusions can be found in Dutch and French.

The entire page 9 is dedicated to the Commission's Work Programme for 2011 (CWP 2011), and the GAC is the coordinating spider in the web, as described earlier, so let us give you the text in full for your enlightenment:


The Council took note of the presentation by the Commission of its work programme for 2011 (doc.
15772/10 + ADD 1).

For the sake of fairness, let me add that the document number and the ADD 1 are links in the original.

So much for European added value.

CWP 2011 documents

Published 27 October 2010, the CWP 2011 documents in question are:

Commission Work Programme 2011 VOLUME I - Commission document COM(2010) 623 final - VOLUME I (Council document 15772/10) (12 pages)

Commission Work Programme 2011 VOLUME II - Commission document COM(2010) 623 final - VOLUME II (Council document 15772/10 ADD 1) (43 pages)

What should I say?

Four weeks on from publication, eager Europeans have been offered links to these public documents as numbered by the Council.

We are none the wiser with regard to the views about the choice of priorities, possible consensus, simmering tensions etc.

European added value?


Ralf Grahn

P.S. You don't have to be able to read Swedish in order to understand how the thematic portal offers a rich fare of news, links and debate concerning European issues, from domestic sources as well as from ”Brussels”. is a jointly owned by the main trade unions and the confederation of industry in Sweden. How about making it possible elsewhere in the European Union?

Wednesday 24 November 2010

EU General Affairs Council has taken note – So have we

We have dealt with some aspects at least loosely related to the General Affairs Council (GAC).

We started by looking at the advance information about the meeting: EU General Affairs Council 22 November 2010: What do we know? (22 November 2010). - Not much and scant hope of major improvement is the short answer.

The following blog post revealed the current limits of machine translation from Finnish into other European languages. The theme could be described as “institutionalism with a human face”, and the entry commended the work of pioneering web editors and media teams in the EU institutions who have grasped the meaning of “social” in social media. These “pockets of excellence” show the way towards interaction to other actors in the public sector. The post also noted some of the trailblazers among government ministers who participated in the GAC or FAC meeting: Ihmiskasvoinen Euroopan unioni? Verkkotiedottajat ja #some (23 November 2010).

The third post based its reflections on the GAC conclusions:

Press release, 3047th Council meeting, General Affairs, Brussels, 22 November 2010 (document 16572/10)

This time the post was in Swedish, and it asked if the member states have understood that the European Union policies and internal actions are not ”foreign affairs” (any more). Why are many of the member states still represented by their foreign minister? Why are many ministers for Europe still housed in the foreign ministry (and as junior ministers), instead of in the prime minister's office?: EU: Har rådet för allmänna frågor fel medlemmar? (24 November 2010).

Potentially the General Affairs Council could be important, through coordination of the work of all other Council configurations as well as preparation and follow-up of the meetings of the European Council.

In practice, we do not have to exaggerate much to say that the GAC repeatedly “took note of a note”.

We have duly taken note.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. I am happy to see that the Spanish version and the Italian of the collective blog are alive and kicking as Euroblogs, and they keep up the @Europa451 presence on Twitter as well.

Sunday 21 November 2010

EU Stockholm Programme Action Plan: European judicial culture needed?

According to the final draft agenda for the Strasbourg session 22 to 25 November 2010, Monday 22 November the European Parliament plenary is going to discuss the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme and on Tuesday 23 November the EP is going to vote (pages 3 and 9).

In the background we have the five year strategic guidelines adopted by the European Council in December 2009, with the definitive version published in the Official Journal of the European Union in May (OJEU 4.5.2010 C 115/1):

The Stockholm Programme — An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens

Based on the guidelines, we have the action plan to implement the strategic guidelines, proposed by the European Commission in April:

Communication from the Commission: Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens - Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme; Brussels, 20.4.2010 COM(2010) 171 final

We also know that the Commission's monitoring system PreLex loses the traces of the action plan after the sour conclusions by the JHA Council 3 June 2010.

Before the Stockholm Programme was adopted, the European Parliament tried to make its voice heard a year ago, when it voted a resolution:

European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2009 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – An area of freedom, security and justice serving the citizen – Stockholm programme; P7_TA(2009)0090 (procedure 2009/2534(RSP) )

(Yesterday I presented a few extracts of the 25 November 2009 EP resolution relevant to citizens and enterprises, in Finnish on my trilingual blog Grahnlaw Suomi Finland.)

Citizens and businesses

This time around the European Parliament decided to take a closer look at legal issues relevant to EU citizens and businesses active across borders, in an own-initiative report:

Report on civil law, commercial law, family law and private international law aspects of the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme; A7-0252/2010, 24.9.2010 Committee on Legal Affairs, Rapporteur: Luigi Berlinguer (procedure 2010/2080(INI) ) (20 pages)

European judicial culture

Even if the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) congratulates the Commission on its ambitious proposed action plan, the report calls for reflection on the future of the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ).

Interestingly, the JURI committee takes a very long term view. The beginning of the report is heavily laden with suggestions for discussions and exchanges with judges and practitioners, representatives of legal education and training etc. in order to nurture a European judicial culture.

Later the report discusses proposed actions with more immediate impact on mobile citizens, cross-border consumers and companies active in the internal market, but it may be more opportune to treat these initiatives in the context of the latest policy statements and proposals from the Commission, first collectively and later individually.

Ralf Grahn

J.K. After a long silence the EU Law Blog has returned to the European legal blogging scene. The blog declares: This is a web log about European Union law for students, academics, practitioners and anyone else who may be interested in it. - I hope you are interested and that the EU Law Blog keeps up the good work.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Inquisition v. Giordano Bruno in EU area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ)?

My latest post about the conflict between the Council (member states) and the Commission regarding the EU's Stockholm Programme left me wondering if we should go back in order to move forward.

Lisbon Treaty at a tender age

For some background on EU justice and home affairs (JHA), you could read the following blog posts concerned with the Treaty reform stages which led to the Treaty of Lisbon: EU TFEU: Area of freedom, security and justice I (21 April 2008), EU TFEU: Area of freedom, security and justice II (22 April 2008) and EU TFEU: Strategic guidelines for freedom, security and justice (22 April 2008).

Solemn promises to EU citizens

The signing heads of state or government and the ratifying parliaments made the citizens of the EU a few solemn promises. They could not have placed the founding values, emphasising civil rights and freedoms, much higher than they are, in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83):

Article 2 TEU

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Already in Article 3(2) TEU they make a firm commitment, ”shall offer”:

Article 3(2) TEU

2. The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.

If you are interested in textual hierarchy, you may notice that this text precedes the establishment of an internal market, mentioned in paragraph 3.


The concrete provisions on the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) are found in Title V of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), more precisely the Articles from 67 to 89.

While Article 67 TFEU lays down the general aims, Article 68 underlines the role of the European Council in setting the strategic guidelines for the AFSJ:

Article 68 TFEU

The European Council shall define the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice.

Back in April 2008 I wrote that the European Council was the most important institution of the European Union.The power to define the guidelines was hardly going to diminish this position, even if the official reason for the provision was (only) to codify existing practice, as when the Tampere Programme and the Hague Programme were adopted.


However, it would seem that the guidelines have to fulfil the criteria of the founding values and the area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured. These have been promised to the EU citizens. They are among the expectations of citizens in an objective sense, and EU action would have to be effective enough to attain the goals.

On the other hand, how binding are ”strategic guidelines” for legislative and operational planning?

Is the JHA Council the only authority of importance, when it wants to instate the strategic guidelines as the only guiding frame of reference for the political and operational agenda of the European Union in the Area of Justice, Security and Freedom [sic!]?

Who was right, the Inquisition or Giordano Bruno?

Update: Sorry, I missed providing a link to the Wikipedia article on the fascinating life of Giordano Bruno. For those who read Italian there is a brief biography by Anna Foa: Giordano Bruno (il Mulino).

Perhaps we have cause to look for a second opinion on what the Stockholm Programme should achieve.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. If you have to keep up with what the tribalists are doing, England Expects is one of the nicer ways to go about it. Written by the UKIP press officer Gawain Towler the blog is frequently updated, it is not devoid of humour and sometimes the EU institutions would be well advised to take its criticism to heart.

Wednesday 17 November 2010 reaches 700 Euroblogs

The multilingual now aggregates the posts of 700 Euroblogs, which write about issues related to the European Union or the Council of Europe.

You can pop in to scan all new entries or read the editors' choices on the front page. Both are available as RSS feeds. You can also subscribe to the daily and weekly newsletter.

Follow @bloggingportal on and on

Across national and linguistic borders offers you some of the best reporting and commentary on European affairs, an intrinsic part of our future.

Ralf Grahn

EU Stockholm Programme heresy?

Yesterday I wondered if EU theology needed to introduce the term ”limbo” to explain the whereabouts of the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme (entry in Swedish; use Google translation and the sources in English or your own language if you are interested): Handlingsplanen för Stockholmsprogrammet: I limbo? (16 November 2010)

The Council of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs) twice accused the Commission of deviating from scripture sacralised by the European Council (with the head of state or government from each member state). On the Commission's tracking system PreLex all traces of the proposed Action Plan are lost since 3 June 2010.

The Council was critical enough, but it failed to specify the issues which in its view went beyond the limits of the Stockholm Programme, or those questions which had not been addressed in a satisfactory manner. Thus, the Council conclusions do not meet adequate standards of openness, i.e. being readily understood by outsiders such as EU citizens, without extensive comparative study.

Accusations of heresy become grave matters when they emanate from the Inquisition, so instead of speeding towards the future, we need to go back to how the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) is doing, now that the Lisbon Treaty is in force.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Despite its English name, Diner’s room is a blog in French, where “Jules” writes about European and French law as well as politics. Don’t read Diner’s room if you have preconceived ideas about blogs being uncouth, and want to cling to your prejudices. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy well researched and argued posts on a quality blog.

Monday 15 November 2010

Should libertarians read quality Euroblogs?

I try to promote quality blogs about European affairs by suggestions to the readers of my blogs and to my friends on Facebook. Mostly they are Euroblogs I follow and listed among the now 698 blogs aggregated by the multilingual

Naturally my choices are subjective, but I follow the same rule of thumb with regard to blogs as other media, offline and online:

You are better informed after reading than before.

Many fine blogs have been mentioned earlier, but among later recommendations we find Europe 27etc, Atlantic Community, Bit more complicated, blog, FT Brussels Blog, Mathew Lowry, Christian Engström, Ciudadano Morante, Comparative Law Blog, Conflict of Laws .net, Charlemagne’s notebook and Bruxelles2.


Recently Mathew Lowry caught my eye with a post about abusive online pyjama people: In praise of ‘proper’ media (13 November 2010).

According to Lowry, people like that destroy intelligent online conversations.

Let us take a step back to read the Wikipedia article Libertarianism, where the first and general description mentions the advocacy of individual liberty, especially of thought and action. The core beliefs of the US Libertarian Party are also worth noticing, while the Nolan chart classifies personal and economic freedom in an interesting manner.

Superior choices?

My understanding of libertarianism may be incomplete, but if the aim is minimal public intervention and a preference for individual choices, this seems to indicate that the latter are somehow superior.

It may be an aberration to tell libertarians what they should do, but we have to assume that these liberated people are drawn towards quality reading as well.

It would seem to be in the best libertarian tradition for readers to make intelligent choices.

Thus, they can be trusted to be the first to desert abusive and lunatic blogs, can’t they? It is hardly a question of dress code, but an issue of credibility and constructive discourse.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. On Cosmetic Uprise – UK and the EU Mia Välimäki publishes her personal comments on the relationship between the Chunnel Island and the Continent which has fascinated writers since De bello Gallico.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Freedom of movement and of residence in EU Charter & sundry notes

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union does not bring the citizens of the EU new rights, but it is a handy compilation of freedoms and rights from a number of sources. More specifically the rights based on EU citizenship are summarised in Title V Citizens’ rights, from Article 39 to Article 46.

The freedom of movement and of residence is found in Article 45 (OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83/400):

Article 45
Freedom of movement and of residence

1. Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

2. Freedom of movement and residence may be granted, in accordance with the Treaties, to nationals of third countries legally resident in the territory of a Member State.

Pilgrim’s Progress

Since the theme of free movement of persons (workers) and EU citizenship is played on four blogs and in three languages, here is a record of the latest stages.

EU citizenship: Slow and uneven progress on free movement (10 November 2010) looked at the report from the Commission COM(2008) 840 on the application of Directive 2004/38/EC.

European Parliament supports EU expats (10 November2010) presented two EP resolutions concerning EU citizenship.

The two latest blog posts may pose more of a challenge for international readers. However, machine translation (Google Translate) may be helpful enough. A little assistance to decipher the sources, as well.

Unionsmedborgarskapet: EU-kommissionen aktiverade sig synligt (11 November 2010; in Swedish) looked at the well documented guidance on transposition and application of Directive 2004/38/EC given by the European Commission in COM(2009) 313.

EU-kansalaisten liikkumis- ja oleskeluvapaus Tukholman ohjelmassa (12 November 2010; in Finnish) went on to look at the Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens, especially Section 2.2. Full exercise of the right of free movement. (The “canonised” version of the Stockholm Programme in all EU languages was finally published OJEU 4.5.2010 C 115/1.)

The heads of state or government (European Council) seemed to be as keen to crack down on abuse and fraud as they were to guarantee the right of free movement by removing obstacles (pages 8-9).

Stockholm Programme Action Plan

After these sundry notes, the next logical steps for this pilgrim would seem to go towards the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme – a stage perhaps less straightforward than one would expect.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Linking England and the Continent like the Channel Tunnel, with the publishing prestige of The Economist and with the advantage of being written in English, Charlemagne’s notebook is one of the “must read” Euroblogs (among the 697 already aggregated by Naturally Charlemagne’s notebook is found among Fleishman-Hillard’s selection of Euroblogs.

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.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Towards a citizens’ EU? Lamassoure report and French presidency

The free movement of persons is a fine principle, but in his 2008 report Alain Lamassoure MEP described the problems mobile EU citizens faced in real life with regard to cross-border healthcare, social security, the recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications, car registration and exports, fragmented consumer markets and consumer protection standards, and family and inheritance law, to name just a few.

In a nutshell, Lamassoure concluded that (page 32-33):

In practical terms, citizens need security and legal simplicity just as businesses do…Laws are not made for their authors, nor for the philosophers – but for their subjects, in the sense of the people who have to abide by the law. There are cases where abuses of subsidiarity are more to be feared than abuses of uniformity.

Referring to Eurobarometer opinion polls, Lamassoure stated that more than 9 out of 10 people want judicial cooperation in civil matters, particularly in family matters (page 44).

Based on the problems, needs and opinions, Lamassoure entered into a lengthy discussion about the relative merits of directly applicable regulations versus directives transposed into national legislation, including the quality of transposition and infringement procedures (page 48-55).

After discussing the adoption and transposition of European laws, Lamassoure turned to the citizen facing the national administrations (from page 56). He presented the various EU information channels and advisory services, often little known among the public. Thereafter he gave examples of bewildering administrative practices, with cross-border workers in some areas especially frustrated. There is a gap between European case law and legal acts on the one hand, and application on the ground on the other hand. Further, he discussed problems related to legal remedies.

It is somewhat depressing to see how complex and intractable the every day problems can be for mobile Europeans.

The report was requested by the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and drafted by a French member of the European Parliament, Alain Lamassoure, ahead of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, so many of the proposals for improvement are directed at the French government preparing to chair the European Council and the different Council configurations. But Lamassoure’s broad canvas includes a considerable number of suggestions for the EU institutions and the member states.

The report is a natural introduction to the various issues concerning EU citizens in cross-border situations, and it serves as the basis for evaluating later EU actions and laws intended to improve their situation.

The report exists in at least three language versions, the French original, a German translation and the English translation we have used here:

Alain LAMASSOURE, Député européen: LE CITOYEN ET L’APPLICATION DU DROIT COMMUNAUTAIRE Rapport au Président de la République (8 juin 2008 ; 188 pages)

Alain LAMASSOURE, Mitglied des Europäischen Parlaments: DER BÜRGER UND DIE ANWENDUNG DES GEMEINSCHAFTSRECHTS Bericht an den Staatspräsidenten( 8. Juni 2008)

Alain LAMASSOURE, Member of the European Parliament: THE CITIZEN AND THE APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY LAW Report to the President of the Republic (8th June 2008)

Where did it lead, if anywhere?

French EU Council presidency

President Nicolas Sarkozy and French public opinion seemed to be in unison with regard to the need to protect French (and EU citizens) from the “threats” of globalisation, but it is hard to see traces of the Lamassoure report or active but mundane efforts to improve the rights of ordinary EU citizens in the work of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

At least, this is the impression I get from the midterm review of the French EU Council presidency written by two outside experts:

Christian Lequesne and Olivier Rozenberg: The French Presidency of 2008: The Unexpected Agenda (Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies Sieps 2008:3op; 57 pages)

Is this a lopsided view?

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Bit more complicated… is a very human blog, where rose22joh writes about British and European politics, parenting, faith and life, none of them easy to combine; this makes for interesting reading.

Friday 5 November 2010

EU citizens and European law – Introduction by Alain Lamassoure MEP

One of the better moves of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union was to ask Alain Lamassoure MEP to make some practical proposals for improving the effective application of Community law for ordinary people.

The report is dated 8 June 2008, and Lamassoure handed it over to Sarkozy 27 June 2008, just a few days before the beginning of the six month French Council presidency.

The English web page of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Justice recently linked only to the French original, so I decided to look for other language versions in order to make the report accessible to a greater number of people.

Despite time wasted on some inconclusive searches, we only have to go Lamassoure’s own web page to find the report in French, German and English. If there are translations into other languages, someone could be kind enough to indicate where they can be found. However, here are the direct links to the three language versions:

Alain LAMASSOURE, Député européen: LE CITOYEN ET L’APPLICATION DU DROIT COMMUNAUTAIRE Rapport au Président de la République (8 juin 2008 ; 188 pages)

Alain LAMASSOURE, Mitglied des Europäischen Parlaments: DER BÜRGER UND DIE ANWENDUNG DES GEMEINSCHAFTSRECHTS Bericht an den Staatspräsidenten( 8. Juni 2008)

Alain LAMASSOURE, Member of the European Parliament: THE CITIZEN AND THE APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY LAW Report to the President of the Republic (8th June 2008)

EU citizen and application of EU law

The Lisbon Treaty is in force since 1 December 2009, so I am going to use the expression ‘EU law’ instead of the now outdated ‘Community law’, if possible. I will use the English language version of the report, since it is convenient for the Grahnlaw blog and a majority of its readers.

In the introduction to his mission, Lamassoure referred to what he called an ‘undulating legal landscape on the continental scale’. While sedentary people may be little aware of this, the nomads in our society – i.e. those businesses and people whose living space goes beyond their national borders – are the first to suffer from it, said Lamassoure (page 4).

The main aim of the report was to make sure that EU law benefits European citizens as our legislators intend it (page 5).

Citizens’ rights in a nutshell

On page 8 Lamassoure reminds us of the main Treaty provisions from the Treaty of Rome to the newly signed Treaty of Lisbon, which lay the foundation for the rights of EU citizens, at least in principle:

“Within the scope of application of the Treaties, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.”

“Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship.”

“Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.”

“The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured.”

“Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.”

In real life

From the noble principles Lamassoure proceeds to a more problematic reality, describing the low level of workers’ mobility, the lack of data about and political interest in cross-border marriages, fragmented consumer markets (including online shopping) despite the common currency, and the low level of knowledge about European Union citizenship and the rights that go with it (page 8-11).

Lamassoure compares the current exercise of electoral and civil rights with the absence of a real common market for goods before the Single European Act in 1985 (page 11-12).

Basis and overview

Lamassoure correctly points out that simplification measures have started with businesses before individual citizens. His report is not the first attempt to improve the human side of the European Union, but his overview across different sectors is a good starting point when we begin to look more closely at issues concerning EU citizens in cross-border situations and in different roles, as voters, consumers, workers, mobile persons, in family relationships etc.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. According to the Atlantic Initiative association, at, today's transatlantic agenda is global: from climate change to failed states, from terrorism to the financial crisis, Europe and America must develop common policy to face new global challenges. Worth remembering and following ahead of the EU-US summit in Lisbon 20 November 2010.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

A busy week in the European Union: European Council only part of it

It was a busy week in the European Union. The heads of state or government were in the limelight, because the summits or meetings of the institution called the European Council are at the centre of media attention, although a fair amount of the reporting in national media has been through the prism of domestic politics. (Nowhere is this clearer than in the United Kingdom, with perpetual political and media pressure to leave no veto unused.)

It might be a good idea to let the dust settle and to look at what we have at the European level. The customary mainstream documents are the conclusions and the explanation given by the president:

European Council 28-29 October 2010 conclusions (EUCO 25/10)

Remarks by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at the press conference following the meeting of Heads of State or Government (Brussels, 29 October 2010 PCE 251/10)

Where is the beef?

The general endorsement of the Task force on economic governance sets a few signposts on the road forward, but the summary on first two pages of the European Council conclusions relies heavily on the sources, the Task force report, a helpful factsheet and the proposals made by the European Commission:

Strengthening economic governance in the EU – Report of the Task force to the European Council (21 October 2010; 17 pages)

Factsheet on the surveillance procedures in the EU (21 October 2010; 3 pages)

Package of Commission proposals on EU economic governance [DG Ecfin 29 September 2010]

The official conclusions from the European Council are, as we can see, only the tip of the iceberg: two pages above the surface, but a reading marathon below.

Mundane tasks

We can see the “tip of the iceberg” from another angle as well. Much of what the European Union does consists of important but mundane tasks, bundled under ‘union policies and internal actions’ in Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

While the summit stole the media limelight, last week the Commission churned out a number of relevant documents. These underreported reports and proposals concerned, inter alia, the Single Market Act, EU citizenship, a new industrial policy and the Commission Work Programme for 2011 (CWP 2011).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. There is a new kid (in a politico-zoological sense as well) on the French block of the multilingual Euroblog aggregator (which has grown to 687 blogs related to European affairs). The blog or web magazine Europe – 27etc has made its appearance. The slogan of the blog collective is: “Parce que l’Europe n’est pas une affaire étrangère”. There are six regular contributors (“les Cabris de l’Europe”, in a historic reference to the nationalist president de Gaulle; they write under pseudonyms, to guarantee freedom of expression), and nineteen guest writers have already signed up. Impressive start!