Transparency and Citizen Participation in the EU

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Proposal for a petition to the European Parliament

Keeping in mind that “the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity”;

Keeping in mind that the Union “is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice”;

Given that although the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that the European Union places the individual at the heart of its policies, most of its policies are still negotiated mainly in the interest of national administrations;

Given that, ten years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, very little has been done to strengthen the principle of the centrality of persons and citizens;

Given that the EU’s relation with European citizens is still filtered by national administrations whose practice is to take at their own credit the advances deriving from European law by blaming Brussels for unpopular choices. This behavior, which unfortunately is not challenged by the European institutions, does not only infringe the obligation of loyal cooperation between Member States and the Union, but it undermines day by day since years citizens’ trust in European construction. Moreover very often several national Governments are not only misrepresenting what is done at EU level but are jeopardize from inside some legislative policies by lowering the protection of citizenship and fundamental rights and weaken even their essence;

Given that the European Union is still dragging its feet on the implementation of the principle of equality among European citizens who should “receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies”. In particular, legislative and administrative transparency is still lagging in the EU and this hinder the EU Citizens right to administrative or jurisdictional appeals notably when collective redress would be needed to protect less favored categories;

We then ask the new European Parliament to review the inter-institutional Better Law-Making agreement by enhancing the transparency of the EU decision making process notably for legislative negotiations also to comply with EU Court’s Jurisprudence, the EU Ombudsman’s reports and recommendations and to the request of most of National Parliaments.

To this end, we ask that:

– the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament immediately make accessible the impact evaluations of the new legislative norms (Case CJEU ClientHeartC57 -16 P, September 2018) all along the preparation and the negotiation phase;

– the Regulation on the European Citizens’ Legislative Initiative be once again modified in order to allow European citizens to submit amendments also to legislative proposals currently negotiated so that it can be evaluated not only by the Commission but also by the European Parliament and the Council of the Union;

– direct access be guaranteed to documents under discussion during inter-institutional negotiations (Trilogues), to the extent that they are necessary to understanding the process and legislative debates, and this in compliance with the decision of the “General Court” in Case T-540-15 and in accordance with article 12 of Regulation 1049/01;

– direct access should be granted to the meetings and reports of the European Council and of the Council no matter if debated in a self-declared “informal”; otherwise the designation “informal” could be considered nothing more than a pretext for deliberately concealing these debates and documents from public scrutiny even if their outcome will be in legislative and budgetary measures (see the request of twenty-six national Chambers to the Council);

– intelligible reports be made following debates among national delegations at the level of working groups, Coreper and the Council, as the Ombudsman has recommended, as the European Parliament has asked, and as established by articles 41 and 42 of the Charter and articles 15 and 298 of the TFEU;

Moreover we believe that the same (high) level of transparency to be granted by the European institutions when negotiating future EU norms should also be granted at national level at the time of the transposition of that European norms because it is in that phase that citizen rights and obligations are precisely defined. To this end, we recommend the EU Co-legislator to specify in the articles dealing with the transposition of an EU measure at national level that the implementing member State should list publicly and on the internet as well, which national authorities are deemed to define the national norms of transposition, what the national procedures are that guarantee its transparency and to which institution or agency citizens must turn in order to obtain further information. Furthermore, without prejudice of the information campaign of Europe Direct and of the Centers of European Documentation, member States must establish at regional and municipal level information Centers on EU activity at the local level, in order to allow the full participation of citizens who are not internet enabled and/or who do not have command of the EU’s working languages;

We ask that, once adopted, national norms be accompanied by correspondence tables that indicate the European dispositions at their origin;

We ask the European Parliament to put everything into place in order to strengthen the powers that the Ombudsman and the Court of Auditors have over the institutions, agencies and organizations of the Union and invite the Court of Justice to provide for a specialized section for examining questions connected to transforming the Union into an Area of freedom, security and justice;

We ask the European Parliament to propose a modification of the norms instituting the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and those dealing with the protection and promotion of EU founding values by the European Political Parties and Foundations by establishing a permanent group of Wise Persons, to be chosen from among highly-qualified independent experts (on the model of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe);

The Group of Wise Persons mandate should be to help the EU Member States and the EU institutions but also it should be allowed to intervene at the behest of a given number of citizens of a Member State when they deem that the legislation adopted, or in the process of being adopted, does not correspond to the fundamental values of the EU (article 2 of the TEU) and/or could undermine reciprocal trust among member States.

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3 thoughts on “Transparency and Citizen Participation in the EU

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  3. Pingback: Placing the individual and the Citizen at the Heart of European Union Policies - L'Européen

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