THE EUROPEAN UNION
THE COMMISSION RESIGNATION
Recent events brought it home to the public, hopefully, just how undemocratic the whole European Union is. The European Commission has been in a position to carry on with its fraud, mismanagement, nepotism and so on, blithely ignoring the complaints and wishes of the directly elected European Parliament over very many years. However, an end had to come, and when it did, it was an earthquake, since the whole Commission had to resign collectively in response to an absolutely damning first report from a group of Independent Experts on their activities. "The Commission Resignation" sets out some of the finer legal and political issues surrounding that event, and tries to map out where we should go from here.
To find out about the various Commissioners, government positions etc, go to the table.
The next stage of the conflict is now set. The Council of Ministers has nominated another man, Romano Prodi, for a full term as Commission President, and intends to wait until after the European Elections to replace any of the other Commissioners. And already certain comments from Prodi have betrayed the general disregard with which the EU views women.
While the appointment of Prodi is likely to be well received by Parliament, the procedure being adopted smacks of even greater arrogance towards the Parliament than that demonstrated by the Commission, not to mention the small detail that what the Council proposes is in breach of the Treaties. Moves are now afoot to challenge Council. One possible route is the Motion of Censure, discussed in the attached piece. That would bring the emerging impasse to a head. It is in preparation, and while it may be tabled this coming week, it stands little chance of adoption, since the big Groups (Socialists and Conservatives), those great radicals against fraud etc, will vote in the usual way, this time to keep their disgraced colleagues in the Commission in office as long as possible. Parliament could also refuse to approve Prodi as long as the replacements are not in place, but cannot force Council to actually appoint them.
Criticism of the then EEC stretches back, maybe to its origins in the 50's, but was more evident around the time of the first proposed accession, that of the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Norway around 1972. Norway voted against membership, which was a major slap in the face for the EEC. And quite hefty resistance developed in the run up to the membership referendums in both Ireland and Denmark, though these countries both voted to join. The UK, in inimitable fashion, decided to have a consultative referendum to confirm membership, after she joined. Other members like Spain, Portugal and Greece, more recently followed by Austria, Finland, and Sweden, have since joined with more or less opposition. Norway showed its consistency by rejecting membership a second time.
One of the main focuses of opposition to the current trend in the EU has been the revisions of the Treaty. The first major revision occurred in 1985, the so-called 'Single European Act' (SEA), and was due for ratification by all Member States by the end of 1986. Ireland delayed ratification for about 6 months, because the Irish Supreme Court adjudged in the now famous Crotty case, that a referendum was necessary, contrary to the wishes and plans of the government. These events galvanized a powerful, though dispersed, critical movement in Ireland, which persuaded over 30% of the people to vote NO, despite the massive state-funded propaganda (later found illegal in the McKenna case), the promise of billions from Bruxelles, and the totally amateur nature of the campaign. The NO votes since then have steadily risen almost reaching 40% on the Amsterdam Treaty. While denmark ratified the SEA, she initially rejected the Maastricht Treaty in June '92, by a narrow margin, which was followed by a previously unscheduled French referendum, which very narrowly accepted it. Denmark was finally persuaded to accept Maastricht in a second vote (keep asking them until they give the right answer!), and went on also to accept Amsterdam. It should be mentioned that many of these critical movements had, and continue to have, active contact, now formalized in an organization called 'TEAM'.
Following the SEA and in preparation for the inevitable subsequent Treaty revision, it was decided in Dublin, inspired to some extent by the late Petra Kelly MdB, Green Party Member of the German Bundestag, to hold a counter-summit, along the lines of TOES which parallels the G7 meetings. The idea was to parallel the then European Community 'summits', held every 6 months, under a rotating Presidency. Ireland held the Presidency in the first half of 1990, and held its summit in Dublin Castle in June, very near the city centre, practically closing the city down to accommodate the fleets of chauffeur cars and helicopters. A small group organized the first European counter-summit in the nearby Clarence Hotel, inviting representatives from all EC States, and those likely to be invited to join later on. A draft Policy Statement was prepared, and with minor modifications, was adopted unanimously at that event. Please read it to see how it is still relevant today, as the basic issues surrounding the EC-EU have not really changed all that much. Your comments would be welcomed.
A not entirely regular series of these counter-summits has been held since, most notably in Edinburgh in 92, Amsterdam in June '97 and Cardiff in June '98. Amsterdam demonstrated the rising tide of opposition which so worries those in charge of the EU, in that the Council sat in side a bank, behind barbed wire and massive security, discussing getting 'closer to the citizens', 50,000 of whom were outside marching for change. Something similar can be expected at the next big summit - Köln, Germany in June this year, for which massive preparations have been underway for nearly a year now.
As is evident, this site is in ongoing development
created May '98, last modified 12.4.99