28 March 2012
Two leading NGOs - Statewatch and the Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Utrecht) - have made a joint submission to the Convention on the future of Europe calling for substantial amendments to the constitutional articles on "Democratic life" in the EU which would ensure that:
"executive and legislative power when exercised by the Council and other institutions, committees, agencies or other bodies is subject to independent scrutiny and overall accountability to parliaments, the judicial system and ultimately to the citizen"
The suggested amendments to the proposals on the table include:
1. Extending the proposed rights of citizens to all residents of the EU
2. Extending proposed rights to all voluntary organisations not just to so-called "representative" ones (which is used to exclude thousands of research, educational and community-based groups)
3. The setting of public deadlines by all institutions for individuals and civil society to submit their views, making a list and the contents of such submissions publicly available.
4. Extending the role of the European Ombudsman, in cooperation with national Ombudsmen, to cover all EU agencies and bodies (not just institutions) and by providing a non-judicial route for complaints about the failure to implement the EU Charter of Rights.
5. Adding a new Article to spell out strong powers of scrutiny for national parliaments including legislative and operational activities, powers to invoke a scrutiny reserve which would prevent a Member State government voting in favour of a measure, and the formal recording of parliamentary reserves.
6. On access to documents: to ensure that all EU institutions, agencies and bodies are obliged to create a public register of all documents produced, "not just a selected handful as in the case of the Commission's current register".
7. The European Data Protection Supervisor and the national counterparts should have the power to block, order the erasure or correction of data recorded, to impose a temporary or definitive ban on processing and have the power to refer issues to the Court of Justice. The data protection provisions would also be extended to the third pillar on an interim basis prior to the adopted of legislation.
Full-text of the submission
Joint suggested amendments to the draft constitutional articles on democratic life by Statewatch and the Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Utrecht): Joint submission (Word)
Joint suggested amendments to the draft constitutional articles on democratic life by Statewatch and the Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Utrecht): Joint submission (pdf)
Draft from the Convention on: Democratic life
Previous joint submission Statewatch and the Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Utrecht) on justice and home affairs: Joint submission
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