Synthetic reports equal political wiggle room – European Commission requests

July 26, 2013

Choosing exactly the right words matter.

Particularly in such areas as law, where the elasticity – or not – of every word used can have numerous far reaching  implications –  in politics, where the words used, frame the arguement, normally to the advantage of those who frame an issue first (if done well) – and by the media who must not only accurately report the words used by others, but also carefully choose how they will frame the issue for public consideration.

(Sadly, none of this due care is particularly evident in Ukraine by way of consistency in any of the aforementioned spheres.)

Thus, the words used when defining terms of reference, parameters or scope also matter and again should be very carefully chosen to encourage or restrict any elasticity in their understanding by those who read them.  In short, the reader need know not only what it says, but also what it really means.

With this in mind, it is with interest that I note the invitation to NGOs and CSOs to contribute to a “synthetic report” for the European Commission and EEAS relating to reforms and reform implementation throughout the 12 ENP nations.

These reports “are not general reports on the political and economic realities of the country. Their scope is limited to implementation of the Action Plans or Association Agendas.”  Very clear – and yet both economics and politics are essential ingredients in just how well – or not – implementation of Action Plans or Association Agreements are progressing.

Is it possible to deliver a credible report on the successes and failures of implementation without including the political and/or economic reasons why matters are as they are?  After all reform is driven by “political will” first and foremost.

Naturally, the invitation states “In order to ensure a maximum of transparency and objectivity in the reports, the EEAS and the Commission services draws on the widest possible array of sources. In this context, all interested parties, including non-governmental organisations and other interested organisations active in the fields covered by the ENP Action Plans are invited to provide any information, reports or assessments.”  – a rightful and democratic nod to civil society,  but without allowing civil society to completely address all the issues it would want to with the European Commission and EEAS in a comprehensive document – as those would obviously include the politics and economics of the nation they are reporting on.

So what does it really say, given that the European Commission and EEAS know very well just where the implementation process is with regard to each and every nation already?

This would appear to be little more than a limp inclusion of civil society in a request for an a-political, independent, third party “content filler/content corroborator” that may – or may not – be included in a synthetic report, almost certainly to be circulated to Member States, the European Parliament and European Council prior to the Vilnius Summit with regards to the EaP nations in November.

It is for this reason, one has to strongly suspect, that this invitation is carefully worded to exclude any form of political or economic content from those who would accept and action it – For without that political and economic content, there is an enormous amount of political wiggle room for the European Commission, other European institutions and Member States, to make decisions that they may otherwise feel somewhat more constrained in making – particularly when it comes to interests verses values.

Instead it seems the EU and its composite parts prefer to take any civil society backlash post facto, when they – and they alone – add the political and economic context to the decision making.

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