How can Civil Organisations establish a Connection with EU Institutions? Vincent Porter European Media Policy Adviser to EURALVA
Issues • The EU Institutions • Citizenship and the Democratic Deficit • Citizenship, the EU and the National Interest • Citizenship versus Consumerism • Conclusion
EU Institutions • The European Commission (Európai Bizottság) • The European Parliament (Európai Parlament) • The Committee of the Regions (Odbor regija) • Economic & Social Committee (Gospodarski i socijalni odbor) • Council of the European Union (Európai Uniós Tanács)
European Commission • Proposed by European Council • President + 26 members designate: Hungary: Lazlo Andor (MSZP) [employment, social affairs, and inclusion] • EP may only accept or reject proposal in toto. • Sole body to propose new legislation • Co-determination via European Council and European Parliament • Implements Decisions
The European Parliament • Large Constituencies (20 for Hungary, all won by FIDESZ) • Proportional Representation (22/736 MEPs for Hungary: 14/265 FIDESZ (EPP/CDs); 4/184 MSP (Progressive SD Alliance); 3/27 JOBBIK (non-attached); 1/54 MDF (Conservative/Reformists) • Each MEP Chooses/appointed to 1 of 21 Committees • MEP Calendar: 60 days (= 12 weeks) part-sessions; 24 weeks committees & delegations; 12 weeks political group meetings; 4 weeks constituency work. • EP’s 3 main powers: Approve/reject (a) EU Commission; (b) EU Budget; Co-legislator with Council of Ministers • Lobbied by individuals, businesses, NGO’s, lobbying org’s
21 Committees of the European Parliament • Foreign Affairs (Human Rights, & Security and Defence); • Development; International Trade; • Budgets; Budgetary Control; Economic and Monetary Affairs; Employment and Social Affairs; • Environment, Public Health and Food Safety; Industry, Research and Energy; Internal Market and Consumer Protection; • Transport and Tourism; Regional Development; • Agricultural and Rural Development; Fisheries; • Culture and Education; • Legal Affairs; Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; Constitutional Affairs; Women’s Rights and Gender Equality; Petitions; and Financial, Economic and Social Crisis.
Committee of the Regions • 344 Members (Hungary has 12 full & 12 alternate members) • 27 national delegations: Hungarian delegation selected according to XXI law of 1996 on regional development, and resolution 2025/2004 of Government. • CoR evaluates likely impact of prospective EU policy at regional level – can be influential • Can draw up Resolutions on topical issues
Economic & Social Committee • Employers and Employees Organisations • 344 Members (Hungary has 12) • Equal no’s of employers, employees, and third groups (e.g. farmers, consumers organisations, professional associations) • May become redundant in light of Parliament’s increased powers • “Promotes corporatism at the expense of democracy.”
European Council • Ultimate Power rests with European Council • Agenda co-ordinated by Council President • Responses to many Commission proposals co-ordinated by COREPER (Committee of Permanent Representatives; often -> “diplomatic” = ambiguous wording • Council’s responses usually carry more weight than European Parliament in Co-determination Procedure
EU Citizenship and the Democratic Deficit • Citizenship is Principally a National Construct • PR can lead to misalignment between interests of Citizens and Members of European Parliament – but citizens should identify MEP’s “constituency weeks” • Either establish EU-wide Organisation • Or work through national contacts on local issues • In addition Monitor EU Websites & Eurobarometer • Do not forget Council of Europe / Human Rights – and Implications of Lisbon Treaty
Citizenship and EU Agenda • The Commission is the only body which can initiate change • The Commission is lobbied by European Council, European Parliament (through Committees), and Committee of Regions and private sector. • Generally, others respond to the Commission’s Agenda • EU Citizens should lobby for changes to Commission’s Proposals via European Parliament, Committee of Regions, European Non-Government Organisations, or National Governments • EU Presidency [e. g. Hungary] can highlight issues
Citizenship, the EU and the National Interest • The EU: a Supranational Institution • BUT NOTE: the Principle of Subsidiarity • Directives move from “Harmonisation”, via “Mutual Recognition plus Minimum Standards” to “Subsidiarity” • Most Directives are implemented via “National Laws, Regulations, or Administrative Actions” • Always follow up changes at National Level
Problematic Issues • Abuse (by other countries) of Country of Origin Rules • Abuse of (by own state) State Aid Rules (e.g. Public Service Broadcasting) • Move from Official Regulation to Co-regulation and Self-Regulation (e.g. Audiovisual Commercial Communication) • Commission monitors implementation of Directives, but “only if incompatible with a provision or principle of Community Law”
Citizenship versus Consumerism • EU’s Principal Purpose is to establish a Single European Market • Gives Free Movement of Labour -> Migration to Richer Countries • Asymmetry in Provision of Information • Limited Information for Consumers • Consumer Education is generally a Subsidiarity Issue
Citizenship versus ConsumerismBroadcasting: a Case Study • Amsterdam Treaty allows State Aid for PSB in order to “fulfil democratic, social and cultural needs of society”. • But Commission only monitors the process of state aid for PBS, not the programme content. • TV services regulated by country of origin • Co-regulation allowed for product placement on TV, but no monitoring of notification to viewers. • Media Education: a subsidiarity issue?
How can Civil Organisations establish a Connection with EU Institutions? • With Great Difficulty! • Nevertheless, We Must Try!!