Wednesday 27 September 2017

State of the Union: openness and Democracy Package

After the latest State of the Union (SOTEU) 2017 blog posts looking at EU citizens, reform and future and Citizens’ Dialogues,  we recall that public opinion - despite the clunky Eurobarometer questions - seems to have been ahead of the EU27 heads of state or government, at least until the openings in the Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s SOTEU address SPEECH/17/3165 and the French president Emmanuel Macron’s Sorbonne speech (English summary) gave the leaders some impetus.

Openness (transparency)  

The European Commission has said very little about European level democracy, but at least in principle the Commission is open to input from citizens of the union. In addition to the Citizens’ Dialogues discussed earlier, we take note of the public consultations, even if most of the issues are of interest to specific business and consumer lobbies more than politically engaged EU citizens. On the State of the Union 2017 web page, we find the Commission’s button with an invitation to send our comments after the SOTEU address, although we do not know what, if anything, happens after the feedback  enters the black hole.
Through the State of the Union 2017 web page we can access a two-page factsheet on Better Regulation, with a focus on priorities offering European added value and improved enforcement. The leaflet is available in all the official EU languages. You can also consult my State of the Union blog post on better regulation and enforcement.
The SOTEU 2017 web page provides a link to a press release IP/17/3167 related to one aspect of transparency, namely a Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission. The press release - available in the official EU languages - leads us to the official document:
Draft Commission decision of 12.9.2017 on a Code of Conduct for the Members of the European Commission; Brussels, 12.9.2017 C(2017) 6200   

Democracy Package

The SOTEU 2017 web page offers us a link to the Commission’s so called Democracy Package IP/17/3187, with MEMO/17/3168, both available in 23 official EU languages. There is also a brief pastel coloured factsheet on the revision of the ECI Regulation.

One proposal wants to make the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) more user-friendly and the other revision wants to tighten the rules on funding for European political parties (Europarties) and their political foundations.

If you follow the link in the press release for the revision of the revision of the ECI Regulation, you find the materials - proposal, annex and Commission staff working document - plus an invitation to subscribe to get notifications and an invitation to provide feedback within eight weeks from publication. The same principles apply, if you follow the link to the amendment of the Regulation regarding European political parties and foundations.

The official documents comprise 161 pages in all, but let us post the details of the main proposals through Eur-Lex for future reference:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European citizens’ initiative; Brussels, 13.9.2017 COM(2017) 482 final; procedure  2017/0220 (COD)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No. 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council of 22 October 2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations; Brussels, 13.9.2017 COM(2017) 481 final; procedure 2017/0219 (COD)  
The Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) NGO - @LibertiesEU on Twitter - interviewed professor Alberto Alemanno - @alemannoEU -  about president Juncker’s SOTEU speech and these positive but modest Democracy Package steps towards strengthening democracy in the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

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