21 April, 2016

ECI 1: EU's Citizens' Initiative is a Counterfeit for real consultative Democracy

Lisbon Treaty’s European Citizen’s Initiative is a fraud for legally required, real consultative democracy.
Responding to the European Ombudsman’s request for reactions to the Lisbon Treaty’s Citizens’ Initiative, the Schuman Project sent the following contribution on 1 April 2014. The Ombudsman recently published her report. This Schuman Project contribution was sent to the Commission by the Ombudsman.

Dear Ombudsman,
I enclose a short commentary from the Schuman Project which studies the origin, purpose and future of the supranational Community method.
Yours etc,.

Schuman Project:
Comments and criticisms on the European Citizens' Initiative  

1. Overview of citizens' initiatives now and how they should work in a Community system
There is persistent criticism that the EU/ Community system is not very responsive, nor in fact democratic. This is not true. The Community system is Europe’s most developed democratic system ever. It is so successful that it was able to bring peace after more than 2000 years of continuous war. What is also true is that it is not working. Why? because it was blocked by de Gaulle and nationalist politicians in the late 1950s and 1960s. What de Gaulle did in distorting good administration can be found on the eurDemocracy commentary, quoting his minister Alain Peyrefitte. (http://democracy.blogactiv.eu/2012/12/16/nobel3-eu-councils-brazen-nobel-expo-fraud-general-de-gaulle-originated-europes-peace/)
What we have now – and the Citizen’s Initiative is a case in point – are ineffective bandages aiming to repair the appearance but not the substance of those problems. Under de Gaulle’s take-over of France in 1957, European politicians were given tools to make secret deals without public and democratic participation. The Consultative Committees were sidelined; the Parliament was ignored and scorned. Corruption and abuse typified by Wine Lakes and Meat Mountains were just some outcomes of these non-democratic ‘package deals’ made behind closed doors in the Council of Ministers. Schuman said all institutions should be open to the public so they could come under the control of public opinion. The Council shut its doors. Many still prefer this structure today.
The means to unblock those measures that ‘stifle’ and ‘chloroform’ European democracy (to use the terms of de Gaulle’s instructions to his staff) are not difficult to accomplish. However such measures as the Citizen’s Initiative are going about it in exactly the wrong direction.

Some Major defects in the Citizen’s Initiative Approach.
No matter how successful the collection of signatures is, there are major problems in (a) creating a worthwhile initiative; (b) applying the petition, and (c) evaluating it in European law.
The petition has first to be drafted. Who is authorized to do this? What if the drafting is inadequate and some people only sign with conditions and cautions? How are these to be evaluated if at all? What about highly prejudicial topics, lobbyist-propounded actions or one-sided, undemocratic and unfair propositions?

The major inadequacy of the ECI is that it ensures no real democratic process. This is apparent from the petition that was duly signed by a million Europeans end the travelling circus of the European Parliament {between Strasbourg and Brussels). The public will was clear but the institutions refused to listen.
 (Incidentally, in 1959, Robert Schuman as President of the European Parliament led a delegation to the Council of Ministers and received its assurance the seat of the Parliament would be fixed ‘as soon as possible.’ For the Gaullists, then in power, this meant never.)

Even if an ECI falls right inside the framework for the Commission to act, there is no guarantee for it to do so. Nor should it. The Commission is supposed to be independent in its own right of initiative to make proposals. It has to judge the measure, place and timing according to the proper soundings laid out in the Treaties and according to the Community method. (The core of the problem is that the Commission does not make the soundings with the body it is supposed to be in permanent dialogue with. That is the fully elected, democratic Consultative Committee.)
Thus the ECI may find itself in direct conflict with the Community method and therefore only adds to the frustration of citizens who deplore what they consider the lack of democratic sensitivity of the Commission. There are quite a number of other objections of this order, which I will omit here for sake of brevity.

Now consider what some might classify as the ideal ECI case. A petition is launched, it gathers sufficient signatures, and the Commission takes it on board as a proposal. It is passed by the institutions that have to give an opinion: Parliament, Consultative Committees (Economic and Social Committee, Committee of Regions, Scientific and Technical Committee) and the Council of Ministers. It then is passed into law by the publication of a Directive in the Official Journal

Then there is a dispute. Another Directive is passed to correct the problem. The case is taken to the European Court of Justice. How should the Court deal with the two Directives? Is the Directive that has the support of a million-signature petition more powerful, legally speaking, than the second Directive that has ‘only’ passed through the European institutions? If the Court overturns the first Directive, would there not be an uproar because it is seen by some as a super-democratic Directive compared to one that does not have ECI support? Any judgement is likely to raise controversy and lower public trust in the institutions by either one side or another.

  • Isn’t the solution then to make sure that the present institutions are acting to their full capacity as democratic support to citizens and are representative and responsive? How can the institutions be UNcholoroformed and UNgagged from the stifling anti-democratic mechanisms introduced at the time of the Gaullists. 

    1. 2. The Community Method
    A full description of how the Community method should work and how it can provide the most sensitive form of democracy is given on the Schuman Project site at fed.htm .
    The principle is that the full range of public opinion should be able to express their interests in any European legislation. This opinion can help to improve it, rescind it where necessary, and initiate whole new sectors that should be placed under democratic control broader than international agreements. For example a fully fledged Energy Community could be created to deal with the present energy and financial crisis arising from high gas and oil prices by cartels.
    The Community method provides democracy at three levels: nation States; individuals and thirdly the democratic associations and ‘collectivities’. Another innovative institution is the European Commission which is defined in early treaties as supranational. That means it is (a) independent of all interests (b) it is impartial (c) it is composed of a small number of people selected on the basis of their wisdom, experience and their openness to the other institutions as sources of information, needs and interactions.

    The Commission
    At present the Commission does not fulfil these treaty obligations that
    (a) its membership should be open to all citizens Lisbon Treaty (LT) TEU Article 10.3. It is now confined without treaty sanction to politicians or ex-politicians chosen in secret.
    (b) Politicians have changed the Commission where originally no member was a member of political parties to full political nepotism. The LT says only that the Commission should be chosen at the time of the EP elections and taking the results into account. It nowhere says that parties may present candidates for Commission president. This is ruled out because any person aligning himself to a party political programme is by definition partial and not independent. Politicians refuse to resign from parties even though the treaties say in Article 245 TFEU: ‘Members of the Commission may not, during their office, engage in any other occupation, whether gainful or not.’
    (c ) The present situation where Commissioners become political candidates for the EP, as it were on holiday from the Commission, then return to the Commission to judge on sensitive matters often dealing with governmental and political corruption is untenable to any thinking person. Article 17.1 ‘the Commission shall promote the general interest of the Union’, not a partial, political one. Only persons ‘whose independence is beyond doubt’ 17.3, may be Commissioners. ‘They shall not seek nor take instructions from any government, or any institution, body, office or entity.’ This must exclude all politicians who insist on retaining membership of a political entity. This clause was introduced into the Lisbon Treaty precisely to prevent political parachuting and other abuses.
    (d) By allowing politicians to play politics in the Commission, impartiality is lost, and any Citizen’s Initiative becomes dubious or worthless. As a democratic exercise the ECI that does not conform to political programmes will find itself rejected or put into cold storage – possibly as long as the Parliament circus question.

    The Council of Ministers.
    The treaties are quite clear that all debates, drafting and discussions should be open to the public as well as decision-making. LT TFEU Article 15 .. the Union institutions, bodies and agencies shall conduct their work as openly as possible.’ 15.2 The European Parliament shall meet in public, as shall the COUNCIL, when CONSIDERING and voting on a DRAFT legislative act.’

    The Consultative Committees
    The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions have the right to select their membership from among all duly qualified associations. This has never been accomplished in more than 60 years because the Council introduced a measure that Schuman and Reuter classified as ‘illegal’. It gave to itself the prerogative to choose who should be members of these bodies.
    Take for instance the Economic and Social Committee which is by treaty composed of three sections: entrepreneurs, consumers and workers’ associations. If a measure such as water accessibility for all was discussed, then a truly representative body with three sections would make sure that a petition such as a Citizen’s Initiative was balanced and fair.
    If one of these groups, say the consumers managed to accumulate a million signatures for free water the tripartite Consultative Committee would not be able to pass an Opinion on the Commission’s proposal because it lacked the support of the other two groups. The water entrepreneurs would not be willing to supply water for free, nor would workers in the water industry as they would not get paid and their working conditions would deteriorate. That is the reason for the threefold division requiring that such matters are discussed at the technical, economic and social levels to make sure that Directives work. Fairness is what he called an independent supranational value.
    Schuman said when he introduced the Community method to the Council of Europe that the Consultative Committee would have powers equivalent to the Council of Ministers. De Gaulle saw this as a problem to his nationalistic politics. He made sure that the four Consultative Committees were rendered a political cipher. That is contrary to the treaties and natural justice which is the foundation of the Community method.

    The European Parliament
    A number of criticisms can be made about how the EP has never had fully democratic elections according to treaty specifications. They will not be dealt with here for space reasons. (http://www.schuman.info/election1.htm and http://www.schuman.info/election2.htm ).

    The major means to have an effective Citizen’s Initiative is to strengthen the Consultative Committees and make sure they have proper elections. They will thus have greater credibility when for the first time they take the Commission or Council to Court. In the history of European institutions, the Council of Ministers only began to take the Parliament seriously when it took the Council and Commission to Court for failing to make full consultation with it. After that, elections were organized in 1979.
    As it stands the Citizen’s Initiative is no substitute for real democracy based on the Community method.

    19 April, 2016

    Debate21: How Europe's "Top Politicians" are creating a Manifest Crisis of Democracy

    Europe today is in a Manifest Crisis of Democracy. That term — Manifest Crisis — relates to an article in the treaty founding Europe’s first supranational Community. Without the will and the consent of the people, nothing lasting can be achieved. Yet the public will is manifesting itself more and more powerfully against the arrogant attitude of the self-appointed ‘Top Politicians’. These Top Pols, a modern Politburo, think they know better than Robert Schuman who patiently and wisely created Europe’s democracy system. Their opinions and too often their corrupt practices ‘top’ the rightful voice of the public.

    Do they know how Schuman brought Europe’s first real peace in 2000 years? If so can they bring peace to other regions like the Near East?
    Do they have any memory of their history, Europe’s astounding recent history? On 18 April 1951 — 65 years ago — leaders of Western Europe signed the Great Charter of Democracy. This document, that Robert Schuman compared to the Magna Carta of 1215 in Britain, encapsulates the foundational principal of public assent to government, European democracy. Schuman called it the Charter of the Community (Pour l’Europe, p146).

    General de Gaulle, who was not known for his humility, took power in France a few years later. He despised the party political system, ‘the regime of parties‘. He was also openly hostile to the Community idea. He sought by all means to destroy it and replace it by his personal autocracy. Pro-European and pro-democratic ministers resigned from his government. The Charter was buried in the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for six decades. At the request of the Schuman Project the Charter was sought out of its Gaullist burial place. It was again reproduced and published.


    In 1951 Western Europe was under threat by the USSR. In occupied Central and Eastern Europe, it had created a Bloc of fraudulent ‘People’s Democracies’ where people regularly voted and even held referendums. But it was just a veneer. The system was controlled by the Communist Party’s Politburo — sometimes using the names of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Socialists as front organizations.

    How could the West demonstrate it was committed to real democracy? That is what the Charter defined. It is a principle that will one day or other be tested in the European court of Justice. The West’s fraudulent democrats today had better beware.
    The Charter says:
    This Europe is open to all European countries that are able to choose freely for themselves. We sincerely hope that other countries will join us in our common endeavour.

    The same day the Charter of the Community was proclaimed, the six leaders of France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries also signed into force the Treaty of Paris. It created the democratic principles of the Community. It is defined with FIVE democratic institutions. They cover
    • individual democracy and freedom,
    • organizational freedom and democracy and
    • freedom of the national State and its government within in a supranational Community
    • the democratic rule of law and most important of all,
    • unfettered Freedom of Conscience.
    To indicate how these principles should work experimentally on a restricted scale in one sector, the leaders created a European Coal and Steel Community.
    1. The individual was represented democratically in an Assembly, later a Parliament.
    2. Freedom of association was represented in the Consultative Committee with its three representative sections, workers, enterprises and consumers.
    3. Freedom of States was represented in the Council of Ministers.
    4. The Rule of Law was institutionalized in the Court of Justice.
    5. The concept and practice of Freedom of Conscience was institutionalized in the High Authority (later the European Commission). Its members were not allowed to represent their national States. They could not adhere to any political party or other interest group. They were experienced in the sectors but they could not have links or interests in the coal and steel industries. Nor could they, after leaving office, assume any position whether paid or not for three years. Their independence and conscience helped define the meaning of supranational in article 9 of the treaty.
    The Community had as its declared goals:
    The European Coal and Steel Community was highly successful in its democratic goals. Instead of the war that most commentators expected, Europe expanded on an unprecedented wave of prosperity and peace. Additional Communities were created in the fields of a customs union (Common Market) and a nuclear energy and non-proliferation Community (Euratom).

    What did the Gaullist and neo-Gaullist politicians do? As soon as possible after the fifty year trial period of the European Coal and Steel Treaty they refused to renew it for a further period. They did not ask the public. They called for no referendum. The Community had protected the coal and steel industries through periods of boom and also crisis. Its budget amounting to a one percent tax on production was carefully monitored both by those who supplied it and those like the workers and consumers who benefited. There was no need for a Court of Auditors. Workers in these industries were guaranteed employment. When inevitably mines were closed as unproductive, the miners were re-trained for new industries. There was no cost to the national budgets.
    Coal mines and steel-makers benefited also from a greatly expanded marketplace. Cartels were forbidden and dismantled. The industries were thus able to specialize and innovate. When there is over-supply in the steel industry the Community could declare a ‘Manifest Crisis‘ to deal with its causes on a Europe-wide basis.
    After 2002 what happened? Prices of steels rose inexplicably, somewhat like a phantom cartel was acting. There was no longer supranational consumer control on the industries. Then businesses got into trouble. Foreign buyers took over many industries.

    Today Europe is in a manifest crisis not only of its steel industries but also its democracy.
    Steel is suffering because of Chinese overproduction. Speaking at a Politico event on 18 April, French Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, said that the USA rapidly imposed 300 percent tariffs to protect its industries while nowadays it takes nine months for the EU to react. The Chinese overproduction is equivalent to two years of steel production in Europe.

    It is not only steel that is in surfeit. Politicians have created treaties galore, each abandoning the fundamental principles of targeted supranational communities and public consent of governments, individuals and organized civil society. The arrogant attitude of ‘We know best’ is ever more blatant and manifest.

    When Denmark voted against the Maastricht treaty in 1992, the Top Pols, instead of binning the treaty as it broke both supranational principles and democratic assent, tried to ‘fix’ it. Sure, the Danes under pressure voted later in favour, but the other countries had no opportunity to say whether they too agreed with these later amendments. That is not a conscientious democracy. Having got away with this fiddle, the Top Pols tried other ploys. They amended treaties in parliaments. There they could force self-serving measures through using their party parliamentarians as voting fodder. The public was not able to participate or protest.
    They then created a European currency based on flawed principles of economics. When the European Court of Justice reprimanded France and Germany for ignoring their own rules, the European Council thumbed their nose at the Court.

    In other cases like the Fiscal Pact the Top Pols of the Council decided they would grant themselves complete immunity from legal action in Court. They decided repeatedly to defy the Ombudsman’s request to reveal documents about its mechanisms.

    Then of course there was the ridiculous and illegal Constitutional Treaty. The turgid and undemocratic system granting politicians further unfettered powers was roundly rejected both by the French and more emphatically by the Dutch. Other countries such as the United Kingdom who were about to hold a referendum were told they would not be allowed to. (But they passed it by a TopPol ruse!)

    So was the treaty as dead as door nail? Not on your life! The lookalike Lisbon Treaty is the same text. It shed only the articles on the twelve-star flag and the European anthem, (Hadn’t you noticed the EU has obeyed and banned the flag?).

    Drapeaux européens devant le Berlaymont
    Drapeaux européens devant le Berlaymont
    To become the Lisbon Treaty the whole of the Constitutional Treaty was written into the existing treaties. How? As a long list of amendments to their articles! What a fraud! Don’t the politicians have any shame?

    So what about a people’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty for the public to confirm they had changed their mind and now agreed to what they previously rejected wholeheartedly? No chance! The book-length list of meaningless amendments was voted by force through national and even the European parliaments. Some parliaments had not even read the amendments. Nowhere was an official text of the whole treaty produced before voting. That would make the fraud totally manifest!

    Nothing could be more designed to destroy public confidence and trust. How did the French — those great revolutionary democrats — deal with this tricky fraud? Did their political leaders call for a second referendum? Of course not. They merely changed the Constitution so they would not have to have one! What sauce! It is not surprising that nearly every country now has ever-growing “anti-Europe” skeptic parties.They may soon grab the levers of power in Brussels.

    So what does M. Macron think about this deceit? Was it a good idea not to take the first referendum NON into account and then purposefully prevent the French people from having a voice on it again?
    “It was a mistake,” he told me.

    Europe won’t get much further out of its manifest crisis until a majority of politicians also have the humility to say: “It was a mistake!” and mean it. It would be useful for the European institutions to start remembering to celebrate the anniversaries of the signing of Europe’s founding democratic treaty.

    14 April, 2016


    In February 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was in Egypt and wanted  to discuss with the Saudi King ibn Saud a definitive and lasting settlement between Arabs and Jews.

    Churchill was told that the King would not allow drinking or smoking in his presence. Churchill recorded:

    "I was the host and I said that if it was his religion that made him say such things, my religion prescribed as an absolute sacred ritual smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after, and if need be, during, all meals and the intervals between. Complete surrender." Churchill by Himself, p353.