Archive for July 5th, 2011


EU nations appeal transparency ruling of EU courts….and Ukraine is opaque?‏

July 5, 2011

Well here is a difficult situation.

A lower EU court has ruled that the Council of Ministers must publish which nations voted in which was during EC decisions. This was immediately jumped upon by the UK and Greece in efforts to overturn that ruling and now 20 of the 27 member states of the EU have joined that appeal. – Blimey!

Some notably open governments, namely the Scandinavian members are set to abstain from any appeal actions, meaning they, plus the 20 appealing the ruling make up almost all EU member State governments.

For the ruling to be upheld and the appeal lost, it would be similar to a requirement to disclosing who in the Presidential Administration of Ukraine voted one way or another on any policy issue, or the UK cabinet, or Obama’s administration etc.

Whilst the EU parliament, UK parliament, Ukrainian parliament all allow to see which MP voted which way over what policy or law, very rarely unless there is a “leak” do the public ever find out how members of uppermost decision making bodies vote or debate on policy issues within their inner sanctums.

You can imagine the western press headlines should a Ukrainian court rule that the Presidential Administration must disclose who was for and against any policy decision and it immediately and almost unanimously decide to appeal against it. There would be screams of unaccountability, opaqueness, lack of democracy, lack of freedom of information etc. Yet here are almost all EU governments set to appeal this court decision relating to transparency.

Is it not selective justice/selective implementation of the law for the EU and its members to choose which rulings it obeys and which it will not? Is the law, when written, produced in such a way that it is blind to interests of any particular party in the future?

What is the difference between the Ukrainian oligarchy and the EU leadership if they choose to adhere to what suits them and appeal or ignore what doesn’t?

All that said, there are some solid points made relating to the process of negotiations needing to be kept confidential. Those negotiations are base upon sovereign national interests rather than the benefit of the EU as a whole. The EU does not work like the USA where the well-being of the USA comes before the composite States in the political or public mind-set. In the EU, German citizens put Germany first and the EU second. So do the British, French, Italians and every other nation within the EU fold.

Such transparency would show the real lack of cohesion within the EU amongst its members on almost every issue and vividly display that the consensus of any EU decision always comes out at the lowest common denominator of agreement that can be reached.

The unfortunate part of all of this is that the core principles of the EU I have no issues with. They make sound economic and security sense with very little sovereignty ceded other than by proactive agreement rather than reactive submission via peer pressure. Where it has gone horribly wrong is the complexity it has now found itself in. To unpick what it has become in an effort to return it to the first principles it was based upon seems almost impossible, and even if it could be done, is it really in any nations interest to do so at the risk of further disenchantment in the court of public opinion?

The real question here is public interest or interesting to the public, which are not necessarily the same thing. What maybe interesting to the public by way of discovering what was said in a think-tank/negotiating environment is not necessarily of public interest until a decision has been made or is about to be voted upon.

At a micro level, is it interesting to my entire extended family which holiday destinations I ponder, or simply necessary to inform them of which I have chosen after deliberation amongst the immediate family who will be going along for the ride?

Do I want or welcome lobbying and/or influence being placed upon my immediate family’s vote over a destination from the extended family? Does it quicken or slower the negotiating and decision making process? Will it make certain positions more entrenched or flexible when deciding where to go?

Is Ukraine more of an oligarchy and less transparent than the EU? Certainly Ukraine’s public accounts have been audited more successfully than those of the EU and far less of the money is unaccounted for. The decision making processes do not seem any less transparent in a political or diplomatic sense. In fact at least the leaders of Ukraine have been voted into office and not appointed without public consultation. Ukraine is passing laws to meet EU transparency requirements whilst 20 plus sovereign nations are appeal and fighting transparency rulings from the EU courts.

It seems to be yet another example of East moving West and the West moving East ideologically. To put it another way, Ukraine is finding its independence whilst the EU is assimilating Borg-like its component parts. The ultimate choices for the EU seem to be a Republic based on the law being blind for one and all or an Oligarchy run by nominated rather than elected leaders. The notion of democracy doesn’t really fit in the truest sense of the word in its current complex make-up.

That said, the slide from republic to oligarchy is as short a step as democracy to oligarchy when looked at from an elitist point of view……or that of the disenfranchised hoy polloy.

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