Ireland South: A look ahead

So a thread over on Machine Nation got me thinking ahead to next June’s European Elections. Some parties, including the Greens, Labour and Sinn Fein have selected their candidates. FF are a foregone conclusion with FG the only major party left to select. Of course Kathy Sinnott will run again. Libertas who say it is “substantially correct” that they have registered as a European Political Party.

So who is running (in no particular order):
Labour (Party of European Socialists) are running Senator Alan Kelly from Tipperary. He was elected on the Agricultural Panel to the Seanad.

Greens (European Greens–European Free Alliance) are running Dan Boyle their leader in Seanad Eireann and Chairman. He was appointed to the Seanad following the loss of his seat in Cork South Central in the 2007 General Election.

I assume Fianna Fail (Union for Europe of the Nations) are running Brian Crowley MEP who is the leader of the UEN in the European Parliament. Brian was first elected in 1994 and has held it since.

Sinn Fein (European United Left–Nordic Green Left) are running Cllr. Toireasa Ferris, former Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council. Her father, Martin Ferris, is the Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North.

Fine Gael (European People’s Party-European Democrats) still have time to decide between Colm Burke, who was co-opted to replace Simon Coveney TD, and former GAA President Sean Kelly. Burke is a former Lord Mayor of Cork with a long history of serving the people of Cork. Kelly on the otherhand will be well known around teh constituency so that convention should be interesting.

Kathy Sinnott MEP (Independence/Democracy) is also expected to run again as she currently heads up the Ind/Dem group in the European Parliament. She ran in the General Election back in 2002 and narrowly lost out on a seat in Cork South Central. She was elected to the European Parliament in 2004.

Thats all the candidates I know of. Other candidates may be announced and I will endeavor to keep this list updated!

How MEP’s Work

A friend posted this on Facebook, its an European Parliament version of They Work For You, called How MEPs Work. Its not run by the EP but by Institute for Public Policy Bucharest with the financial support of ‘Trust for Civil Society’ for Central and Eastern Europe. It is an interesting site with plenty of nice info.

Some random stuff.

Top 3 Irish MEPs for Attendance:
1. Seán Ó NEACHTAIN
UEN – 97.56%
1. Kathy SINNOTT
IND/DEM – 97.56%
3. Colm BURKE
PPE-DE – 92.68%

Top 3 Irish MEPs for Loyalty to the political group
1. Proinsias DE ROSSA
PSE – 98.11%
2. Gay MITCHELL
PPE-DE – 92.10%
3. Jim HIGGINS
PPE-DE – 90.40%

Top 3 Irish MEPs for Motions for resolutions
1. Brian CROWLEY
UEN – 84
2. Eoin RYAN
UEN – 68
3. Liam AYLWARD
UEN – 18

Have a poke around and see what else you can find

Olympic Boycotts

So whos not going to the opening Ceremony.

German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel has said she will not attend the opening ceremony and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has confirmed he will not attend the opening ceremony but will attend the closing ceremony.

George Bush is still going but at this point all the Presidential candidates (including McCain, has asked him to not attend.

Meanwhile the European Parliament voted on a resolution today calling on “Calls on the EU Presidency-in-Office to strive to find a common EU position with regard to the attendance of the Heads of Government and of State and the EU High Representative at the Olympic Games opening ceremony,”

There has been similar calls in Ireland for Biffo not to attend.

I am glad there are no calls for atheletes to boycott the Games like at the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. These only affect the atheletes and do not impact anyway on the host nation. The olympics only cone once every four years, so they can sometimes be the highlight of an atheletes career.

Maybe the approach should be like the 15 countries, at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, who disagreed with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that they marched under the Olympic flag, and not their national flag, and the Olympic Hymn was used instead of a national anthem. Or like New Zealand did at the same olympics and use the flag of their NOC (New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association)

This could be the way for NOC’s to overcome the moral/ethical dilemma faced by them. Of course everything should be done to sepperate Sport from Politics but the Olympics is one of those events which seams to meld the two as countries put so much time and effort into hosting the games and bidding for the games.

I have therefore decided to join Merkel and Brown and not watch the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

There thats my ethical issue over and done with


Source:
Provisional Texts of Texts Adopted at the European Parliament, Thursday 10th April (Word Doc)

EP approve resolution on Lisbon

The European Parliament has approved a resolution on the Lisbon treaty. The results were as follows:
525 Yes
115 No
29 abstenions

Source (PDF)

The Irish MEPs voted in the following way:
Yes:
ALDE: Harkin
PPE-DE: Burke, Doyle, Higgins, McGuinneas, Mitchel
PES: De Rossa
UEN: Aylward, Crowley, O’Neactain, Ryan

No:
GUE/NGL: McDonald
IND/DEM: Sinnott

Abtenstions:
None

So the majority of Irish MEPs are in favour of the Treaty. I wonder if the referendum reuslts will reflect this.

EU Links 19 Feb 2008. EU Politcial Groups

This EU links post shall be all about the EU political groups in the Parliament.

For a Group to be formally recognised in the Parliament, it must fulfil the conditions laid down in Rule 29 of the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. That Rule states that a Group must have MEPs elected in at least one-fifth of the Member States, must have at least twenty MEPs, must contain no MEP that is a member of another Group, and its MEPs must have a common political affinity.

Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats
Know as EPP-ED. Fine Gael is the Irish Member in this group. The EPP-ED is the largest grouping in the EU parliament with 289 MEPs. The Chairman of the EPP-ED Group is Joseph Daul MEP (FRA). The current president of the Parliament is a EPP-ED Member.

Member Parties
Piorities

Socialist Group in the European Parliament
Known as the PES. Labour is the Irish member here. The PES have a very cool flashy website check it out. The PES has 215 MEPs in the parliament. Martin Schulz MEP (GER) is the current president of the PES.

Member Parties
What They Stand for

Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Known as the ALDE. Marian Harkin is the Irish MEP for this group. The ALDE has 100 MEPs in the Parliament and is led by Graham Watson MEP (UK)

Member Parties
What they stand for

Union for Europe of the Nations Group
Known as the UEN. This is Fianna Fail’s grouping in the Parlaiment. The Co-Presidents of the grouping are Brian Crowley MEP (IRL) and Cristiana Muscardini MEP (ITA). Found the website hard to get around and cant link to specific pages to you have to look for yourself. Cant find a what we stand for page…

Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance
This group consists of two distinct European political parties – the European Green Party and the European Free Alliance (EFA). The EFA consists of parties representing stateless nations. The Greens-EFA is a grouping of 42 MEPs in the Parliament. It is led by Monica Frassoni MEP (ITA) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit MEP (GER). I *think* the Green Party when it has MEPs sits with this grouping.

Members
Campaigns

Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left
The EUL/NGL grouping in the Parliament has 41 MEPs and Sinn Fein sits with this grouping. The EUL/NGL is led by Francis Wurtz MEP (FRA)
Member Parties
Policy

Independence/Democracy Group
IndDem grouping in the Parliament has 24 MEPs. Kathy Sinnott is the Irish Member of the Group. The grouping is led by Johannes BLOKLAND MEP (Netherlands), Jens-Peter BONDE MEP (Den) and Nigel FARAGE MEP (UK)

Program
Members

EU Links 15th Feb 2008

More stuff from the EU

Commission: New Porposals on Border controls from the Commission

Commission: McCreevy proposes that the term of copyright protection for European performers be increased from 50 to 95 years

Exexutive Agencies: Frontex, European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders. Its in the spotlight at the moment so have a read about them.

Parliament: Prince Charles talks to the EP

Parliament: Contacts for the Irish MEP’s.

EESC: The European Economic and Social Committee in Ten Points (PDF)

EU: Want a job in an EU institution? Apply at EPSO

Thats it for today!

EP Report on the Lisbon Treaty

I found it! Yay!!! About time! The report is here

Its long but its got the opinions from a few different committees and an explanatory note! Enjoy

Treaty of Lisbon: State of Play, not an update really

John over at Semper Idem has an interesting post about the pitfalls that face the Treaty of Lisbon in the 22 countries left to ratify the Treaty where it may be used as a political football like in Slovakia at the moment.

John also has a post about the YFG Lisbon poster competition that I was going to post about but he beat me to it! So I’ll just link to him instead!

A body I have left out is the European Parliament which will vote on the Treaty this month according to wikipedia, upon looking at the Draft agenda the a report from the constitutional affairs committee will be debated on Tuesday 19th of Feb. The motion I eventually found on the Legislative Obsevatory!

The Motions conclusion is as follows:

7. Believes that this Treaty will provide a stable and lasting framework for the future development of the Union;
8. Endorses the Treaty and hopes that all Member States of the Union will be in a position to achieve its ratification by 1 January 2009;
9. Is aware that an amending treaty is inevitably less clear and readable than a codified treaty, but looks forward to the rapid publication of the consolidated Treaties as revised by the Treaty of Lisbon, which will provide citizens with a clearer basic text of the Union;
10. Reiterates its request that all possible efforts be deployed, both by EU institutions and national authorities in accordance with the principle of sincere cooperation, in order to inform European citizens clearly and objectively about the content of the Treaty;
11. Instructs its committee responsible to prepare the necessary changes to its Rules of Procedure and to assess the needs for further implementing measures;
12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs to the national parliaments of the Member States, to the Council, to the European Commission and to the former Members of the Convention on the Future of Europe, and to ensure that Parliament’s services, including its external offices, provide ample information about Parliament’s position on the Treaty.

The motion refers to a report that I cannot find. Must email an MEP then.

The motion also contains concerns which is interesting to read:

Concerns
6. Is aware of the widespread regrets that, following the results of the referendums in France and the Netherlands, it was necessary, in order to secure an agreement amongst the 27 Member States, to:

– abandon the constitutional approach and certain of its features, such as a new, single and structured text, the clearer terminology to designate legislative instruments, the symbols and the designation of the High Representative as “Foreign Minister”;

– postpone the implementation of important elements of the new Treaty, such as the
entry into force of the new voting system in the Council (accompanied by special
provisions for postponing votes known as the “Ioannina compromise”), and add restrictive mechanisms like “emergency brakes” to the ordinary legislative procedure
in some policy areas;

– incorporate into the Treaty measures specific to individual Member States, such as
the extension of the “opt-in” arrangements for the UK and Ireland to police cooperation and criminal law, the protocol limiting the effect of the Charter on the
domestic law of the UK and Poland and the extra parliamentary seat attributed to
Italy in derogation of the principle of degressive proportionality;

– modify the wording of several passages of the Treaty, or of the declarations annexed to it, entailing an unjustified shift to a negative tone, which gives an impression of mistrust vis-à-vis the Union and its institutions and thus sends a wrong signal to the public;

Interesting balance for a Parliamentary motion.

EU Links 10th Feb 2008

Heres another installment of EU links!

Commission: Tuesday is Safer Internet Day

Commission: The EU can help small businesses

Parliament: Excercise your rights. Submit a petition

Europa: Europe Direct. Have a question? Call or Email!

Debate Europe: Debate on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty

Treaty of Lisbon Episode 3: Efficient and modern institutions

The Treaty of Lisbon will not change the institutional set up of the EU. What it will do is try to make it run that bit smoother. Which is no mean feet! I will look at each institution in turn.

European Parliament

This is the only directly elected body EU. The new treaty has boosted its powers as regards lawmaking, the EU budget and approval of international agreements, as I outlined in part 2. The composition of the parliament will also be changed – the number of MEPs shall be capped at 751 (750 plus the president of the parliament). Seats will be distributed among countries according to “degressive proportionality”, i.e. MEPs from more populous countries will each represent more people than those from smaller countries. No country may now have less than 6 or more than 96 MEPs. These will reduce Irelands share to 12. That means the Ireland – Dublin constituency will now only have 3 seats making it then same as Ireland – East, Ireland – South and Ireland – North West constituencies.

European Council

This body will become an official institution of the EU. It has the the role of driving EU policy-making. Although it will not gain any new powers, it will be headed by a newly created position of president. Elected by the European Council for 2½ years, the main job of the president will be to prepare the Council’s work, ensure its continuity and work to secure consensus among member countries. The president cannot simultaneously hold any elected position or office nationally. Tony Blair is said to be running for this poistion and Bertie Ahern has been mooted as a possible candidate.

The Council of the European Union
The Council represents the EU’s member governments. The main change brought by the Treaty of Lisbon concerns the decision‑making process. Firstly, the default voting method for the Council will now be qualified majority voting (QMV), except where the treaties require a different procedure (e.g. a unanimous vote). In practice, this means that when the new treaty enters into force, QMV will be extended to many new policy areas (e.g. immigration and culture).

In 2014, a new voting method will be introduced – double majority voting. To be passed by the Council, proposed EU laws will then require a majority not only of the EU’s member countries (55 %) but also of the EU population (65 %). This will reflect the legitimacy of the EU as a union of both peoples and nations. It will make EU lawmaking both more transparent and more effective. And it will be accompanied by a new mechanism (similar to the “Ioannina compromise”) enabling a small number of member governments (close to a blocking minority) to demonstrate their opposition to a decision. Where this mechanism is used, the Council will be required to do everything in its power to reach a satisfactory solution between the two parties, within a reasonable time period. This will make voting in council a real joy for mathamaticians. Countries such as the UK will have more votes (or weight) when they oppose something. This will be both a blessing and a curse. Though I think there are more advatages.

European Commission

Its main job is promoting the European public interest. The new treaty reduces the number of Commissioners – from 2014, only two thirds of member countries will have a Commissioner (e.g. with 27 countries, there would be 18 Commissioners), but the posts will rotate between all countries. The number of Commissioners can also be changed by the European Council (by unanimous vote).

In another major change, there will be a direct link between the results of the European elections and the choice of candidate for president of the Commission.

The president will also be stronger, as he/she will have the power to dismiss fellow Commissioners. Its about time this was brought in, presently the Parliament can only censure the entire commission (causing it normally to resign). This at least will mean commissioners will have to live up to standards.

EU high representative for foreign and security policy / Commission vice-president
The creation of this post is one of the major institutional innovations introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. It should ensure consistency in the EU’s dealings with foreign countries and international bodies.

The high representative will have a dual role: representing the Council on common foreign and security policy matters and also being Commissioner for external relations. Conducting both common foreign policy and common defence policy, he/she will chair the periodic meetings of member countries’ foreign ministers (the “foreign affairs Council”). And he/she will represent the EU’s common foreign and security policy internationally, assisted by a new European external action service, composed of officials from the Council, Commission and national diplomatic services.

Havier Solana currently holds the role that this will replace. I think it is an excellent idea and especially as he will be on the Commission and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Council.

The other institutions
No significant changes have been made to the role or powers of the European Central Bank or the Court of Auditors. However, the new treaty broadens the scope of the European Court of Justice, especially as regards police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and changes some of its procedures. I am glad the ECJ is being extended it will give judical overview to EU actions.

Some other interesting research is out there on the treaty. I found these via Semper-Idem

UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 08/03 The Treaty of Lisbon: European Union
(Amendment) Bill (PDF)

UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 08/09 The Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the Treaty on European Union. (PDF)

Any research links that I post will be neutral or from an institution such as a parliament. I will not put links to pro or anti arguements though I know I am areguing for the treaty, I would prefer if people read the information that is non-biased. Especially in Ireland as it willbe the subject of a referendum. If people have questions, leave a comment or email me at stephen (dot) spillane (at) gmail (dot) com. I will endeavour to get back to you.

The next post on the Treaty of Lisbon will look at the the Charter of Fundamental Rights.