Roche, ELDR Vice President

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As well as the appointments made by the European Council last night (more on that later), another recent appointment has come to my knowledge. Dick Roche, the current Minister for Europe, has been made a Vice-President of the European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party (ELDR) . From what I am hearing, a lot of people are not happy about this.

Pat Cox, the former President of the ELDR is not a happy man from what I hear, and the youth wing LYMEC (who I have blogged previously about here) are also not a happy bunch. LYMEC are actually threatening to vote en masse against anything Fianna Fail put forward at ELDR Congress (which is currently ongoing in Barcelona) meaning that nothing Fianna Fail want will happen.The Dutch Liberals, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) I think (It could be D66) are not happy with the appointment either.

Fianna Fail don’t seem to making many friends in the ELDR or ALDE. This is the second time this month they have annoyed other members. I wonder how long they will last as Liberals?

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An opportunity not to be missed!


Do you blog? Are you free on March 27th and 28th? Fancy covering the European Greens Congress in Brussels and have it all paid for? Then check out their blog and find out how!

(H/T: Jan’s EUblog)

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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!

Euro Vote ’09

I found this via a group on facebook that I have gotten involved in. The group is “Voter Registration Campaign for European Elections 2009” and I obviously being of a political disposition and Pro-EU in my own way support it.

The group was created by Michael Bourguignon a dutch writer on www.eurosduvillage.com.

He has suggested three ways of engaging Europeans with the elections that will take place in 2009 in an article on that website entitled “The Individual’s Responsibility for Change“.

I would recommend reading the full article, but I have reproduced the 3 ways below!

The three ways are

Firstly, the turn-out numbers for this election have always been low. The facts and figures point to a decreasing rate of participation in an already low voter turn-out. This was represented in statements from the then out-going Parliamentary President in 2004, Pat Cox, that stated that “Regrettably, Europe is too absent from European elections in both East and West.” Many analysts saw the elections as presenting the bill for national governments and not taking European issues into hand.

What we need today is a consensus from European parties to engage in their powers of electing Commissioners and other areas where their competence can change Europe. With Lisbon hopefully coming into effect, the powers of the Parliament will be strengthened and parties can have a larger say in choosing the European Commission and European Parliament Presidents. Thus political parties would be able to create platforms that engage in choosing these newly created presidential posts to which citizens can then relate to — personal figures rather than abstract policies.

Secondly, another key component to incorporating citizens into Europe can be taken from the current US elections: creating grassroots campaigns. Europe needs to create a grassroots program where the most unlikely actor can play a crucial role: The Committee of the Regions.

Voting rights are the rights held by individuals and no-where can the subsidarity principle be applied more perfectly than in this area. In order to try to generate a grassroots program the Committee of the Regions must entrust to the local political parties their sense of being able to generate ground action in their areas and call for citizens to get involved. This will bring down the barriers to language and communication and render politics on a local framework to promote a more perfect union.

Finally, what Europe needs to do is to create a European-wide campaign for voter-registration. This will undoubtedly give the campaign back to the citizen and make him part of a larger picture, and finally hope to engage citizens in Europe. Depending on the national voting requirements of each Member State, registering voters, or making them aware how important voting actually is in the overall picture of the EU , will give them a feeling of responsibility for political action and make them feel part European integration. It is a simple formula for imformative action that depends ultimately on individiual responsability to counter the dissatisfaction and alienatation that most Europeans have on when tackling European issues.

So join the facebook group and if you are a EU resident in Ireland ensure you are registered to vote in the Euro’s (and Local’s) next year by logging on to www.checktheregister.ie!

Lisbon Treaty, State of Play, May 28th

Germany is the latest country to approve the Treaty. Ratification is till a bit away due to a court challenge. 14 countries have approved the treaty and of them 5 countries have fully ratified the treaty. Still a bit to go, but we are pass the halfway mark. Will Ireland bring it to a halt? or will it be the courts in Germany and the Czech Republic?

AustriaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 24/04/2008

BelgiumParliamentary Vote. In Progress. Has passed the Senate (6th March) and the Chamber of Representatives (10th April). The treaty still has to pass the Brussels Regional Parliament, Flemish Parliament, Walloon Parliament, French Community Parliament and the German-speaking Community Parliament all due Mid-July

BulgariaParliamentary Vote. Approved 21/3/2008

CyprusParliamentary Vote.

Czech RepublicParliamentary Vote. In Progress. The Czech Senate decided to postpone the vote on the treaty and asked the constitutional court for its opinion on the treaty to see whether it is in line with Czech law
DenmarkParliamentary Vote. Approved : 24/04/2008

EstoniaParliamentary Vote. In Progress. Vote due in May.

FinlandParliamentary Vote. Vote due in the Autumn.

FranceParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/02/2008

GermanyParliamentary Vote. Approved : 23/05/08 There is also a pending case before the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe which must be completed before the President will sign off on the treaty.

GreeceParliamentary Vote. Vote due in Spring.

HungaryParliamentary Vote. Approved : 17/12/2007

Republic of IrelandReferendum. Referendum due on 12th June.

ItalyParliamentary Vote. In Progress. The vote will take place some time after the 29th of April.

LatviaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/05/2008

LithuaniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/05/2008

LuxembourgParliamentary Vote. In Progress. Vote due in June.

MaltaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008

NetherlandsParliamentary Vote. Vote due in the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (Second Chamber) in the June and the Eerste Kamer (First Chamber) in Autumn.

PolandParliamentary Vote. Approved : 02/04/2008

PortugalParliamentary Vote. Approved : 23/04/2008

RomaniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 04/02/2008

SlovakiaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 10/04/2008

SloveniaParliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008

Spain Parliamentary Vote.

SwedenParliamentary Vote. Vote due in November.

United KingdomParliamentary Vote. In Progress. Passed the House of Commons (11th March). House of Lords to vote in April. Date TBD for Gibraltar Parliament.

——
Sources:
Europa
Wikipedia

Newropeans, A new pan European Political Party


Well I saw this over on the Debate Europe Forum and had to have a look at it.

From reading the website the party’s aim is

to help turn the EU from a bureaucratic top-down project into a democratically managed political entity. Today, we are facing a profound political crisis and a lack of political leadership in the EU which risks undermining the success of integration. We think that fresh ideas and necessary changes this time will not come from the national governments or Brussels. Newropeans brings new ideas to the EU and is a tool for citizens from throughout the EU to have their say in European affairs. Newropeans will only exist for fifteen to twenty years, the time for the democratisation to be achieved.

How does it plan to do this?

In June 2009, when the European Parliament is next elected, Newropeans will provide millions of Europeans with their first ever opportunity to truly ’act European’. We give citizens throughout the EU the chance to share their vote with all those, throughout the continent, who share a democratic vision of Europe’s future. This is where democratisation starts. At least this is Newropeans’ opinion; if you share it, then you are one of us!

Newropeans currently have members in 12 member states.

Now the all important part what do they stand for? They have 16 Propositions.

1. Ensure that the principle of equality of all European citizens before the law is maintained by eliminating the legal immunity of European officials.
Interesting one. But if we do it for the EU, we will have to do it for the UN, COE etc. etc…

2. Ratify systematically the main changes of community treaties, and in particular enlargements by trans-European referenda.
Yikes, that will be costly. This populist notion could get them a few votes in England and Germany and other countries who population are unsure about Turkey joining the EU.

3. Bring the European institutions closer to the citizens geographically, by decentralising them
We normally give out about MEP’s having to go from Brussels to Starsbourg but how in gods name will the EU function if its institutions are spread out. Thats like having the Dail in Galway and the Seanad in Cork, the High Court is Athlone and The Supreme Court in Sligo with the President in Dublin. God, the expense and the arguements over what goes to which country! God no. They suggest the following distribution.

Each country having chosen its “European town” (often the capital) the new European institutional network will gather a first “Euroring” of institutions in a circumference of 500km around Brussels, taking account of the specificity and advantages of each selected town : Parliament (Brussels), Court of Justice (The Hague), European Government (London), Joint European Administration (Paris), Central Bank (Frankfurt), Court of Accounts (Luxembourg). A second “Euroring” will gather together all the other institutions and community agencies in the town retained by each member State.

European Governemnt sticks out dont it? wait till Proposition 5!

4. Respect linguistic diversity of the EU, a fundamental condition for democracy in the EU, whilst ensuring the efficiency of its functioning by the creation of a clear linguistic regime
Dosent the EU already do this?

5. Create a genuine European Government
The big one! It gets its own page! The idea is that it would replace the Council and Commission. Have a read of it. An interesting idea on how the EU could evolve.

6. Ground the European budget on real own resources for the EU, raised in a transparent manner and being subject to regular control
Yikes, there goes all the votes in the UK and Ireland. “A European company and income tax should replace the system of national contributions to the European budget.” Mores taxes… eek….
(I supported them till I got to here, then it went downhill!)

7. Ensure that the European Parliament is 50% composed of representatives of national (or regional lists), and 50% from trans-European lists; Offer each citizen two votes in the European elections
Interesting idea, have seen it float about before on ideas for reforming the elctoral system.

8. Create a procedure for evaluating the political system and community administration every decade, independent of the executive, legislative and judicial institutions.
I think every country should do this!!

9. Promote internal mobility within the European Institutions
I hope the EU does this already?

10. Promote a Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union (Privileged Neighbour Status)
The EU Neighbourhood policy exists! what are they babbling on about… ahh, the usual alternative for Turkey not becoming a member state…

11. Increasing the efficacy of the EU’s action in the world by reinforcing the role of the ministry of foreign affairs and structuring a clear and objective European foreign policy
Have they not read the Lisbon treaty?

12. Develop a common immigration policy, pursued at national level and aiming at the immigrants’ full integration in the European society
Immigration olicy at EU level, UK and IRL have opt out i assume as we are not in Schengen? It has its own page

13. Elaborate a common European policy against organised crime and trans-national criminality, namely a specialised European police and judicial network
Ahm, EUROPOL? EUROJUST? do these people even look at Europa?

14. Develop profound and wide initiatives in the domain of education and life-long training.
I’m all for it til I read, “Newropeans supports a pro-active ’European Policy in the field of Education’, but opposes anything which could resemble a ’European Education Policy’.” Damn. Its gets its own page also. they also have specific proposals in this area! 6 proposals which are:

  • A. The European Educational Central Criterion, E2C2
  • B. Future Euro-citizens by Education (FEE) Programme
  • C. European Executives Training (EXTRA) Programme
  • D. LIfe Long European (LILE)
  • E. To encourage bilingual education and to generalize the teaching of a foreign language as of 4 year-old children by mobilising Member States and their regions
  • F. To support the introduction in national handbooks of history in secondary schools of “compared visions” for large European historical events

I like E and F alot, and think they are worth following through on!

15. Elaborate an annual social report for the President of the EU, destined to evaluate the social status of the Union (health, education, employment, poverty), based on pre-defined and objective indicators
Dont the EU do this anyway?

16. Mutual reinforcement of political integration, research and competitiveness: common dreams, decisions and entrepreneurship
Isnt that the basis for the EU???

Okay after tearing through their propositions what else do they stand for? Well they oppose Blair as President of the EU, yet to meet someone who wants him as President. They have a manifesto as well as lots of other stuff.

They are in Köln but there is no mention of an Irish branch yet. Theyed want to get cracking if they want candidates for 2009.

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.

Lisbon Treaty: State of play 8th Feb 2008

Yesterday after I had done all my posting France up and ratified the treaty so hence this post to update the list

Austria – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Belgium – Parliamentary Vote
Bulgaria – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Cyprus – Parliamentary Vote
Czech Republic – Parliamentary Vote
Denmark – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Estonia – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Finland – Parliamentary Vote
France – Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 08/02/2008
Germany – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Greece – Parliamentary Vote
Hungary – Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 17/12/2007
Republic of Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliamentary Vote
Latvia – Parliamentary Vote
Lithuania – Parliamentary Vote
Luxembourg – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Malta- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008
Netherlands – Parliamentary Vote
Poland – Parliamentary Vote
Portugal – Parliamentary Vote
Romania- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 04/02/2008
Slovakia – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Slovenia- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008
Spain – Parliamentary Vote
Sweden – Parliamentary Vote
United Kingdom – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress

Also people have been asking for my sources. The overall state of play is availible on the Europa Website, but Wikipedia will actually give you the result of the vote in each house. Its interesting to read it

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.

Lisbon Treaty: State of Play 7th Feb, 2008

Heres the current state of play for the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. It must be ratified by all member states by the 1st of January 2009. So far four memeber states have pass the treaty. I remember doing this for the failed constitution so thought it would be fun to do it for this.

Austria – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Belgium – Parliamentary Vote
Bulgaria – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Cyprus – Parliamentary Vote
Czech Republic – Parliamentary Vote
Denmark – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Estonia – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Finland – Parliamentary Vote
France – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Germany – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Greece – Parliamentary Vote
Hungary – Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 17/12/2007
Republic of Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliamentary Vote
Latvia – Parliamentary Vote
Lithuania – Parliamentary Vote
Luxembourg – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Malta- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008
Netherlands – Parliamentary Vote
Poland – Parliamentary Vote
Portugal – Parliamentary Vote
Romania- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 04/02/2008
Slovakia – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress
Slovenia- Parliamentary Vote. Approved : 29/01/2008
Spain – Parliamentary Vote
Sweden – Parliamentary Vote
United Kingdom – Parliamentary Vote. In Progress

Hopefully Ill remember to update this list every so often