Die EU-Kommissarin für „Institutionelle Beziehungen und Kommunikationsstrategie“, Margot Wallström, hat sich für Bürgergutachten als Instrument für Demokratie, Dialog und Diskussion in Europa ausgesprochen.
Sie sprach vor dem Ausschuss für Verfassungsfragen des Europäischen Parlaments und sagte unter anderem, dass die Kommission eine breitere öffentliche Debatte anregen und führen wolle. Dazu will sie auch direkte Bürgerbeteiligung einsetzen und eben insbesondere Bürgergutachten fördern (im englischen Text ”citizens panels“ genannt).
Die Rede im Wortlaut:
Opening remarks by Margot Wallström
Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy
Constitutional Affairs Committee
Brussels, 3 October 2005
Mr President, Honourable Members,
Thank you for the invitation to join you again and comment on the report being prepared by Andrew Duff and Johannes Voggenhuber.
I am sorry that I was not able to be with you for your introduction and the subsequent debate. I have however seen some of your initial thoughts.
I welcome the draft concept paper. Let me start on the areas we agree on.
Our view on the substance of the Constitution has not changed. We agree on the steps forward that the Constitution would bring in terms of democracy, fundamental rights, transparency and efficiency;
We agree that attempts should not be made to anticipate the Constitution or ‘cherry-pick’ the institutional parts;
We agree that the idea of continuing with the Treaty of Nice or a Treaty of Nice bis is not a long-term solution;
We agree that a European dialogue – what we call Plan-D for democracy, dialogue and debate must be the priority;
We agree that the debates need to be structured and must have a clear feedback process.
At the same time, I will not hide that I have some questions about the approach that you take. Fundamentally, this is not about the final objective or the shortcomings in part III (policies of the Union). It is a question of timing and approach towards the period of reflection.
The risk is that we try to mount a rescue operation for the Constitution and slip back into debate on institutional reform and process. If we are serious about listening, we must not prejudge the outcome of the period of reflection.
Our common ground is the need for a wider debate and the recognition that the focus should be on the policies that affect our citizen’s lives. We have to get back to explaining why people should support the European Union.
The national debates should be centred on concrete issues which matter for our citizens: the type of economy they wish; the common challenges faced by our social security systems; the role of the Union in the world; the global challenges such as climate change or fight against poverty, etc.
We are proposing that the national debates, while respecting regional specificities should be grouped around three main themes:
• Europe’s economic and social development:
• Feeling towards Europe and the Union’s tasks:
• Europe’s borders and its role in the world:
In this sense, the national debates should be on the European project rather than on its institutions; on the ultimate objective rather than on the instruments to deliver it.
My insistence on Plan D builds on the awareness and the conviction that we need to engage in a long-term process to connect citizens to the European ideal and to invigorate European democracy.
I believe that what we should hope to come out of this reflection period is a change in the current atmosphere of disillusionment and lack of consensus on the way ahead. This is a very ambitious goal, and there are no chances to achieve it without a strong commitment of all the actors concerned, and the role of the Parliament is crucial in this respect.
As I said at the Conference of Presidents, the Commission accepts that it has a special role to play. We intend to be pro-active, add momentum to the debate and also make sure we have a cross-border dialogue.
But it is clear that the primary responsibility is for Member States. We need greater commitment from their side. National debates cannot be steered from Brussels. We must respect the national and regional specificities of each debate. Our role in the Parliament and Commission is to put pressure on Member States to engage actively in this process.
Now let me say a few words on where we stand with our reflections in the Commission. We are finalising a communication that will be submitted to the Commission on 12 October. This sets out a range of initiatives clustered around three themes:
Stimulating a wider public debate
- Visits to Member States;
- Availability of Commissioners to national Parliament scrutiny
- Representations open to the public
- Using Europe direct centres in the regions
- European Round table for democracy
- European Goodwill Ambassadors
Promoting citizens’ participation in the democratic process
- Promoting more effective consultation procedures
- Supporting citizens panels
- Greater openness in the Council
- Using new technology to increase voter participation
Tools to generate a dialogue on European policies
- Special Eurobarometer on the future of Europe
- Using internet technology to activate debates
- Funding focus groups during the national debates
These are examples of the actions that we can take at the European level. They do not exclude other ideas from you or other initiatives.
I am interested to hear your ideas and proposals on how we can work together. If you have proposals, I want to sit down with you and look at what can be done together.
One final point. This cannot be achieved without proper financial resources. We are at a delicate stage in the discussions on the PRINCE budget line for 2006. I hope that the European Parliament will agree to appropriate funding without reserve since this leads to the money being blocked until the middle of next year. Plan-D cannot be implemented without an increase of funding for dialogue activities.