01. May 2013

Youngsters fighting for the European dream – some reflections on Europe@debate

by Leticia Díez Sánchez

Leticia Diez Sanchez NEWThe philosopher José Ortega y Gasset once famously stated “Spain is the problem, Europe is the solution”. This might sound like a harsh declaration, yet for many Spaniards it felt particularly true some seventy years after the famous quote was voiced. In 1986, Spain acceded the EU after forty (dull) years of Franco’s dictatorship. As Almunia (Spanish himself too) explained during our Europe@debate in Brussels, for his generation Europe meant peace, democracy and prosperity. The European values represented a rescue from the previous dictatorship, and the Single Market embodied the end of a long period of international insulation.

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26. April 2013

Domestic citizen initiatives – a safeguard to the subsidiarity principle?

by Elias Vartio

elias-vartio-modifiedYesterday, the 25th of April 2013, was considered historic among many political commentators in Finland. The enthusiasm was caused by the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta, Riksdagen) starting its debate the first citizen lawmaking-initiative, which is proposing a banning of the fur production in Finland. Since 1st of March 2012 Finnish citizen have been able to draft and initiate proposals on new laws. If the threshold of 50 000 signatures is reached within a period of six months, then the Finnish Parliament has to take the proposal into consideration and vote on it. Even if no laws are passed or revised, valuable discussion can be born on topics that ordinary parties or individual MP’s might not dare or want to bring forward. This was also noted by the parliamentarians responses; while many rejected the current content of the law proposal, nearly everyone greeted the new form of citizen democracy as a very welcome development. From a European perspective allowing for domestic citizen initiatives is also valuable bearing in mind the subsidiarity principle of the EU – it would be odd if citizens could only have a say on the European level (through ECI:s), but none on the domestic level.

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20. April 2013

What’s going on in Italy: presidential election merry-go-round

by Afrola Plaku

afrola-plaku-modifiedAs I write, the sixth round of voting for the presidential elections is taking place in Rome. Italian President of the Republic, with a 7 years mandate, is elected by  the Members of the Parliament and the representatives of the regions (1007 voters) during a plenary session, and needs at least 504 votes (from the third voting round on) to be elected.

Formerly considered more as a symbolic role, with the prime minister and the government managing executive power and deciding the country’s political pattern, the President of the Republic has gained more and more political importance in the recent past, with former President Giorgio Napolitano being considered by public opinion and external observers as the only stable and respectable figure in a political scenario characterized by continuous scandals, the decrease in citizens’ trust towards political parties and a general sense of confusion and lack of capable guidance for the country.

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20. April 2013

A “right to be forgotten” coming up?

by Elias Vartio

elias-vartio-modifiedFor more than a hundred years ago – in 1890 two American attorneys  Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis proclaimed that a right to privacy is needed for the protection of the individual from the intrusion of the public into their private lives. Special caution was already then given to technological developments of the time – such as the telegram and the camera by which private matters could easily be documented and spread to the greater public. The reasoning sounds quite similar as today when the need for data protection and the “right to be forgotten” will be discussed and voted upon by the European committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) next Wednesday on the 24th of April.

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14. April 2013

European Citizens’ Initiative Turns One Year – Do We Have Reason to Celebrate?

by Danijela Bozovic

danijela-bozovic-modifiedThe world’s first direct, digital and transnational tool of participative democracy, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) took effect on 1st April 2012, when the EU Regulation No. 211/20111 entered into force. The ECI gives citizens within European Union (EU) the right to call on the European Commission to propose new or change existing EU legislation. For an ECI to be considered, the subject matter must be within the Commission’s legislative competence and petitioners must gather at a minimum one million signatures from at least ¼ of EU Member States (currently 7) in one year.

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