“Вавилонската кула”, П. Брьогел

 

Потомците на Ной решили да построят кула по-висока от небето. Като научил за това дръзко начинание Йехова направил така, че събраните за строежа хора да говорят различни езици. И това проваля великото начинание. Вавилонската кула е символ на неадек-ватни човешки свръхамбиции, гордост, подценява-

щи слабостите на човешката природа. А при Брьогел я виждаме като кон-кретна алегория за плановете на испанския крал да обедини Холандия с Испания като за целта дори направи първата админи-стративен център на страната.

 

“The Babylon tower”, P. Bruegel

 

The descendants of Noah decided to build a tower suffi-ciently high to defy the sky. When Jehovah learned about these proud endeavours, he made so that assembled work-men speak various languages. That led to anarchy and stopped the con-struction.So the Babylon tower is a symbol of the inadequate human ambitions and pride ignoring reality and the limitations of human nature. In Bruegel we see it as a concrete allegory of the plans of the Spanish king to unite with the Netherlands envisaged even as the administrative centre of the union – to promote cohesion.   

*********The European Referendum Campaign (ERC)*********

НАШИЯТ НОВ ДОМ “СЕЩ”

 

Малка, неразвита и подвластна все още на екс-комунистически кланове България влезе в една нова държава - федерация с 500 млн. население.  Тази е федерация все още се конституира – няма конституция,  организираща публичната власт и управление в нея.

 

Трима наш представители бяха допуснати да участват в изработването на този акт още преди приемането ни – двама от парламента и един от правителството. 

 

Те не представиха адекватно нашите интереси.  Защото де-факто представляваха интересите на пост-комунистическата върхушка, владееща държавата ни.

 

Добре е да сме наясно кой какво иска и от какво се нуждае в “общия дом” – кои са “играещите” и засегнатите (но не“играещи”)? Защото в политиката често не всички “засегнати” реално “играят” в играта, която ги засяга (не смесвай “играч” с фигурант).

 

Народите в ЕС могат да имат различни интереси. Повечето различия си съжителстват мирно, но други пораждат конфликти. Това е един проблем за решаване в “общ дом”.

 

Елитите и гражданите в ЕС като цяло може да искат различни неща. И да има противоречие между тях. Това е друг проблем.

 

Противоречята между различията и сблъсъците между тези обособени интереси на различните елити – национални или над-национални.

 

Сблъсакът на интереси е познат, легитимен и нормален проблем при всяко общо начинание.

 

Не е точно така с проблема за представеността на интересите. Не всички засегнати интереси “играят” в проектирането и строителството на “общия дом” (вж. картина;), някои… са поизключени. И това е проблем, но останал  някак си вън от обединителното начинание. А всъщност не е!

 

 

Ние сме гражданите на всички тези страни. И евентуално – на новата обединена държава. Какво искаме?

 

Искаме по-добър живот.  И какво общо има това с организациата на публичната власт?;)

 

Предполага се, че всеки иска от своята държава най-добро обслужване на неговите/нейните публични интереси. Нали затова е държавата – да служи на всички. Поне по определение.

 

Но след като все още (повече или по-малко) не е така, ние, народите все още се борим за контрол върху нашите държави – искаме повече реална власт. Защото макар и провъзгласени за суверен, на практика и в контретните закони ние сме повече или по-малко изключени от определянето на политиката и ТОВА изглежда е основната причина за слабото представяне и некачествените услуги на нашите публични (национални или над-национални) служители.

 

Така че това, което искаме е повече и реална власт.  Беше по-добър живот… но точно това не се получава, ако сме изключени от управлението на нашите общи (публични) проблеми.

 

Реално включване е постижимо, ако се добави пряка демокрация. Така мислим. Дори представителите не ни представляват добре без определена “доза” пряко наше участие в правенето на политиката.

 

Първото, което искаме е инструменти за гражданско участие, вградени в бъдещата държава. (вж. списък)

 

Второ, искаме реално да участваме в проектирането на тази държава.

 

Първото не става без второто…. Оттук идеята и кампанията за приемане на европейската конституция с референдум. Кой би искал да проектират бъдещия му дом без негово участие?

 

Тони Блеаровци ни казват: Спокойно, don’t worry, be happy – ние ви чуваме. Нашата чудесна парламентарна система осигурява представителност на вашите истереси. Няма нужда от референдум…

И? Ура? Никакви проблеми с демокрацията в бъдещата Европейска държава?

 

Е да обаче, вече не вярваме:( – на старата “чудесна” представителна система. Наистина твърде СТАРА, прекалено позната и… безнадеждна.

OUR NEAR FUTURE “USE”

 

In 4-5 years our small under-developed country (still ruled and ruined by post-communists) is going to enter a mega-state with a population of 500 millions. This state is still emerging – “The United States of Europe” and now its constitution is being drafted – the organisation of the public power, the pattern of governance that we shall live under tomorow.

 

 

Three our representatives are allowed to participate in the drafting – two from our Parliament and one from the Government.

 

But will they represent our interests adequately? Whom do they actually represent there? They pretend to represent all the people of Bulgaria. De-facto they represent ONLY the post-communist elite.

 

 

Who wants (needs) what in the future common ‘home’ “EUS” be it mega-state or something else? Whose and what are the interests - (1) concerned and (2) playing.

 

Different nations may want different things if they have different interests. These may not collide but sometimes do. That is one problem.

 

 

 

The elites of the nations may want different things from their own nations having different from their peoples’ interests. They may not collide but sometimes do. That is another problem.

 

 

 

And still another are the differences and collisions between these narrow elites’ interests of different elites – national and supra-national.

 

 

Collision of interests is well-known, legitimate and normal problem in every common endeavour.

 

 

That’s not exactly the case with the issue of representation of the interests. Not all of the interests concerned are also ‘playing’ – represented - having a say in the ongoing designing and construction of the ‘common home’. (see picture;) Some are excluded. And this problem is somehow outside of the agenda of the integrative endeavour.

 

 

We are the citizens of all these countries and the future citizens of the new state. What do we want?

 

We want a better life. Has that something to do with the organisation of the public power?;)

 

Presumably everybody wants from his/her state (be it his/her national state or multinational mega-state) the best public service of  his/her public interests. That’s what a state is for – to serve all the people. By definition.

 

 

But… that still is not the case we (more or less), the people still fight for control over their states –they want more and real power. Because though declared a sovereign, IN PRACTICE and also in the laws’ CONCRETE REGULATIONS they are more or less excluded from the making of politics and THAT seems to be the major reason for the still poor performance of the national or supra-national ‘public servants’.

 

 

 

 

So we want more and real power.  Because we can’t have a better life if we are excluded from the management of our common public interests.

 

 

Inclusion can be achieved (we argue) by ‘adding direct democracy’. Representatives are not enough and not representative without a certain dose of direct civic participation in policy-making.

 

 

So in the first place, we want participatory ‘devices’ (see list) incorporated in the constitution of the future state.

 

 

Second, we want to participate and  have a real say (input) in the designing of the new ‘building’.

 

We cannot get the first without the second – hence all that campaign for European constitutional referendum. We don’t want our future ‘home’ designed without us. 

 

 

Tony Blairs tell us: Take it easy, don’t worry, be happy – you are heard by us. Our magnificent parliamentary system ensures deliberation. No referendum needed…

Well then what? Hurray? No problems with future European democracy?

 

This time however we don’t trust the old ‘magnificent’ representative system! It is really too OLD and too notorious, and we are fed up with it.

 

Concerning the European Referendum Campaign we should be know that referendums and DD instruments can be and are often misused by politicians to provide an illusion of democracy and legitimise undemocratic initiatives as “democratic”.

 

So if we campaign for participation ONLY in the ADOPTION of the constitution (by referendum) AND NOT also for RIGHTS OF PARTICIPATION in the very text of the constitution, the voters (given the closeness, conservative and conformist stand of the mainstream media) will not notice the loop-holes and will vote ‘YES’ for their own deprivation of participatory rights – happy that they are at all invited to ‘participate’ in the making of NEW Europe.

 

Without explicite demands for participatory rights in the text of the Constitution the European Referendum Campaign is serving the elites who need to regain popular confidence and legitimise their rule without sharing real power with the people. Undemocratic constitution adopted by referendum is exactly what they need – creating an illusion of democratic decision-making while giving no rights of such in the future European constitution. And they can always tell us then – YOU voted for it.

 

So if we couldn’t mobilize the citizens of Europe to obtain such rights in the draft we should at least help them to :

(1)   understand that they are deprived of something important (participatory rights) by Giscard’s draft and

(2)   vote «NO» to that draft. 

 

Here is the sad account of defining ‘participatory rights’ in all the drafts produced by the Convention:

 

Preliminary draft /28.10.2002/

ARTICLE 34: 
This article sets out the principle of PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. The Institutions are to ensure a high level of openness,  permitting citizens'organisations of all kinds to play a full part in the  Union's affairs.  

 

In the Second draft /02.04.2003/ the principle of participatory democracy is “specified” in a “right to participate”. What is tauthology?;o]

Article 34: The principle of participatory democracy

  1. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union.
  2. The Union institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their opinions on all areas of Union action.
  3. The Union institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.

 

No specific participatory rights are defined, voting for deputies of the European Parliament remaining the only act of direct civic participation in decision-making.

 

But even that seemed too much to someone and… in the Third draft /28.05.2003/  even that meager void ‘right to participate’ VANISHED. Without any comments or explanation:

Article I-46: The principle of participatory democracy

  1. The Union Institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views on all areas of Union action.
  2. The Union Institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.
  3. The Commission shall carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union's actions are coherent and transparent.

The “participatory democracy” granted by the “founding fathers” is reduced to ‘participation’ ONLY in “exchange of views”, “dialogue” and  consultations”… NOT in decision-making.

 

And, what a surprise – in the final Draft of 12.06.2003 we get a little “sweet” to make us happy:

Article I-46: The principle of participatory democracy

The Union Institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the

opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views on all areas of Union action.

The Union Institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative

associations and civil society.

3. The Commission shall carry out broad prior consultations with parties concerned in order to

ensure that the Union's actions are coherent and transparent.

4. A significant number of citizens, no less than one million, coming from a significant number

of Member States may invite the Commission to submit any appropriate proposal on matters

where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing this Constitution. A European law shall determine the provisions for the specific procedures and conditions required for such a citizens' request.

 

And all that stingy ‘trimming’ and ‘retriming’ took place after 25 members of the Convention had proposed a specific formula of real civic participation:

 

ART 34

EUROPEAN CITIZENS' LEGISLATION

(1)   European citizens’ legislation

The citizens of Europe have the right to participate in the legislative activity of the European Union by means of the European Citizens Legislative Initiative and the European Citizens Referendum.
Constitutional amendments decided on by the relevant organs of the European Union have to be submitted to the citizens of Europe for approval in a referendum.

 

(2)    Further requirements

Further provisions that particularly regulate the specific procedures, the numbers of signatures that have to be gathered and the majority requirements are to be laid down in an institutional act.

 

Notes and Appendices

The effect of the above proposals is to bring Europe closer to the people, as Laeken recommended. It represents a large step in the democratisation of the Union. It undoubtedly enhances the role of the European citizen in shaping the future of the European Union. The Constitution will only govern the basic rights and instruments. Further procedures have to be laid down in a European law. The idea of the European Citizens’ Legislative Initiative is that the citizens can present a law proposal to the relevant organs of the European Union. These organs have then to decide whether they will adopt the proposal or not. If the organs don't adopt the proposal, then a binding referendum on the proposed law or proposed framework law must take place. Fair and balanced information on the issues must be provided to the electorate. We also propose to create a European Citizens’ Legislative Submission which would extend the existing right of petition to a right of the citizens to present legislative proposals to the relevant organs of the EU. They have then to decide whether legislative action will be taken or not.
It is very important that the thresholds for the signatures that are to be gathered for the European Citizens’ Legislative Initiative and the European Citizens’ Legislative Submission are not too high. High thresholds interfere with the process and effectively allow only powerful organizations the possibility of securing the required signatures. Based on experiences with citizen lawmaking in many European countries and in other countries of the world we propose that the number of signatures for the European Citizens’ Legislative Submission should not exceed 300,000-500,000; and for the European Citizens’ Legislative Initiative should not exceed 3,000,000-5,000,000.

 

Supported by:

  • William Abitbol, MEP
  • Alexandar Arabadjiev, Bulgarian parliament
  • Josep Borrell Fontelles, Spanish parliament
  • Necdet Budak, Turkish parliament
  • Carlos Carnero González, MEP
  • Caspar Einem, Austrian parliament
  • John Gormley, Irish parliament
  • Giorgos Katiforis, Greek government
  • Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, MEP
  • Peeter Kreitzberg, Estonian parliament
  • Evelin Lichtenberger, Austrian parliament
  • Neil MacCormick, MEP
  • Lord MacLennan of Rogart, UK parliament
  • Eleni Mavrou, Cypriotic parliament
  • Jürgen Meyer, German parliament
  • Marie Nagy, Belgian parliament
  • Adrian Severin, Romanian parliament
  • Anne-Marie Sigmund, Economic and Social Committee
  • Evripidis Stilianidis, Greek parliament
  • The Earl of Stockton, MEP
  • Frans Timmermans, Dutch parliament
  • Pál Vastagh, Hungarian parliament
  • George Vella, Maltese parliament
  • Johannes Voggenhuber, MEP

How easy were they ignored…:(

 

Instead of real rights some crumbs, in fact a semblance of participation was grnted to the citizens in the final Draft,  nameley - the “right” to “invite” (actually to BEG) the Commission (not even the Parliament) to “submit” our prposals to the deciding bodies of the Union. IF the officials there found them “appropriate”. };o)

 

What else can we add to that sad story - a humble campaign gets a humble reward. We do not want to underestimate the great efforts of our civic activists in Brussels but we should be aware that a handful of NGOs cannot make great difference in the big power game.

Let’s consider that the ‘good news’ after that Convention experience is the death of the illusion that real civic power can be gained by NGO lobbying.

 

Civic Participation, Sofia