A Technical approach to the Lisbon Treaty

The European Council Presidency – between ignorance and disregard…

Roma­nia faced the enter­ing into force of the Lis­bon Treaty on 1 Decem­ber 2009 amid the tur­moil of a fierce­ly dis­put­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign, a fact that some­how reduced its direct impact over the pop­u­la­tion and spe­cialised media. The Depart­ment of Euro­pean Affairs (DEA), the cen­tral coor­di­na­tion author­i­ty at the nation­al lev­el in the area of Euro­pean affairs, has adopt­ed a tech­ni­cal approach. Thus, Bog­dan Mănoiu, head of the DEA, stat­ed in Jan­u­ary 2010 that the main pri­or­i­ty was to cre­ate and ensure the effi­cient func­tion­ing of an “inter­nal mech­a­nisms” design, to facil­i­tate the imple­men­ta­tion of the acquis com­mu­nau­taire and to elim­i­nate the “ele­ments con­trary to the Euro­pean com­pul­so­ry demands”.11Bog­dan MĂNOIU, Min­is­ter, Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs: Speech held on 21 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/787/bogdan-manoiu-a-participat-la-simpozionul-despre-tratatul-de-la-lisabona (last access: 17 May 2010). Amidst the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic tur­moil, Her­man Van Rompuy’s meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Bases­cu22“Her­man van Rompuy în viz­ită la Bucureşti”, 18 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.rfi.ro/stiri/politica/Herman-van-Rompuy-in-vizita-la-Bucuresti.html (last access: 17 May 2010). The top­ics of inter­est were rather numer­ous with an accent on eco­nom­ic issues. dealt with the Danube Region Strat­e­gy, the rela­tions with the Repub­lic of Moldo­va and the eco­nom­ic cri­sis: the “exit strat­e­gy” that is going to be adopt­ed by Roma­nia after “the con­clu­sion of the agree­ment with the” Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund at the end of 2010. Ana­lysts gen­er­al­ly view Her­man Van Rompuy (Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil) and Cather­ine Ash­ton (High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Union for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy) as weak and insignif­i­cant lead­ers: “The crit­i­cal voic­es already ask the ques­tion: to which extent can two anony­mous politi­cians be the rep­re­sen­ta­tives whom the EU needs, in order to play in the pre­mier league, next to the Unit­ed States and Chi­na?”33Eveni­men­tul Zilei: Motorul Lis­abona propulsează vise­le europene, 1 Jan­u­ary 1 2010, avail­able at: http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/motorul-lisabona-propulseaza-visele-europene-881221.html (last access: 17 May 2010). For some jour­nal­ists, such as Nico­lae Fil­ipes­cu, the result of the nego­ti­a­tions that led to Her­man Van Rompuy’s nom­i­na­tion can be described as a “dis­ap­point­ment” at least. Her­man Van Rompuy is seen as a “lit­tle known and mod­est politi­cian” who will not be able to impose the EU on the inter­na­tion­al scene. His weak­ness will make the func­tion­ing of the EU a dif­fi­cult process and will incline the oth­er world pow­ers to ini­ti­ate direct bilat­er­al rela­tions with the EU mem­ber states instead of speak­ing with the EU as a whole.44Nico­lae FILIPESCU: Imple­mentarea Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona, Revista 22, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/implementarea-tratatului-de-la-lisabona-7601.html (last access: 17 May 2010). The Span­ish Coun­cil Pres­i­den­cy was expect­ed to set the prece­dent for fur­ther meet­ings. Paul Ivan, a polit­i­cal ana­lyst, remains rel­a­tive­ly opti­mistic with regard to the effi­cient func­tion­ing of the Union. In a pol­i­cy memo ded­i­cat­ed to the analy­sis of the changes brought by the Lis­bon Treaty, he suc­cinct­ly describes the main changes empha­sis­ing the role of the Span­ish Pres­i­den­cy: “It isn’t clear how this sep­a­ra­tion will work in prac­tice, but it is expect­ed that the Span­ish cre­ate prac­ti­cal prece­dents for the future.”55Paul IVAN, Mihai PANAITE, Cipri­an CIUCU, Robert UZUNĂ: Uni­unea Euro­peană se adaptează din mers Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona — Pri­or­ităţile preşed­inţiei span­iole şi intere­se­le României, Pol­i­cy Memo no. 6, Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_6_ro.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).

… the same for the High Representative

If Her­man Van Rompuy received such neg­a­tive reviews, the same thing is valid for Cather­ine Ash­ton. For authors such as Nico­lae Fil­ipes­cu, she is no more than a sim­ple “pub­lic ser­vant”. An “obscure” min­is­ter of for­eign affairs, she will do lit­tle next to noth­ing to pro­mote the EU inter­ests in front of the world pow­ers, due to her lack of inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion.66Nico­lae FILIPESCU: Imple­mentarea Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona, Revista 22, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/implementarea-tratatului-de-la-lisabona-7601.html (last access: 17 May 2010). Oth­ers are more indul­gent and see her as the fittest for the role, since Europe wants to devel­op its image as the world’s great­est “soft super­pow­er”. A tech­no­crat, she might prove her­self “less sen­si­tive to mass-media pres­sure”, the main chal­lenge for her being to show she has “sub­stance” and not only tech­ni­cal abil­i­ties.

“Today, crit­ics can be con­tra­dict­ed, and the man­date of Cather­ine Ash­ton can be more than a tran­si­tion­al episode, on the con­di­tion that the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive define her­self more clear­ly as a polit­i­cal char­ac­ter, to enter in the com­pli­cat­ed and frus­trat­ing game through which the EU vision regard­ing its role on the world scene is formed and reformed with­out cease.”77Lucian DARDALA: Un tehno­crat dis­cret: Cather­ine Ash­ton, Ziarul de Iasi, 22 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ziaruldeiasi.ro/opinii/un-tehnocrat-discret-catherine-ashton~ni684v (last access: 17 May 2010). Roma­nia must also sup­port an active exter­nal pol­i­cy as regards the east­ern neigh­bours of the Union. Ana­lysts such as Paul Ivan claimed as ear­ly as the begin­ning of this year that we must sup­port the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion between the “Euro­pean neigh­bours” from the east and from the south.88Paul IVAN/Mihai PANAITE/Ciprian CIUCU/Robert UZUNA: Uni­unea Euro­peană se adaptează din mers Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona — Pri­or­ităţile preşed­inţiei span­iole şi intere­se­le României, Pol­i­cy Memo no. 6, Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_6_ro.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).

The European External Action Service – between hope and the “brain-drain” of Romanian diplomats

If nei­ther Van Rompuy nor Ash­ton received high grades from the Roman­ian media, what about the new Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice? Here once more we must dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the offi­cial author­i­ties and the media. For Teodor Bacon­schi, Roman­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter, Euro­pean diplo­ma­cy is “a com­ple­ment to nation­al diplo­ma­cies.” It rep­re­sents nei­ther a threat, nor a com­peti­tor, but an effi­cient instru­ment of coop­er­a­tion: “We must not see the appear­ance of the new Euro­pean insti­tu­tion as a for­mu­la of replace­ment of the nation­al voic­es in the 27 Club, but as a sup­ple­men­tary instru­ment through which the polit­i­cal coor­di­na­tion between the mem­ber states advances and some Euro­pean posi­tions, espe­cial­ly on major issues, can be drawn more eas­i­ly.”99Inter­view with Teodor Bacon­schi on 9 Jan­u­ary 2010 at the Roman­ian State Tele­vi­sion, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=41792 (last access: 17 May 2010). How­ev­er, there is a gen­uine con­cern at the offi­cial lev­el as regards the staff that is to be employed by the new­ly cre­at­ed Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice. As the eco­nom­ic cri­sis con­tin­ues and tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the bud­getary restraints, there exists the fear that the best and the bright­est mem­bers of the Roman­ian diplo­mat­ic appa­ra­tus will pre­fer to go to work in this new ser­vice attract­ed by the prospect of more gen­er­ous finan­cial allo­ca­tions. As ear­ly as the begin­ning of the year, the Roman­ian For­eign Min­istry draft­ed a list con­tain­ing approx­i­mate­ly 70–80 eli­gi­ble diplo­mats of which approx­i­mate­ly 30 will work in the new ser­vice.1010Ibid. An exten­sive lob­by is also under­way in order to ensure the respect of cer­tain prin­ci­ples as described by Teodor Bacon­schi in his meet­ings with Cather­ine Ash­ton. In March 2010, the Roman­ian For­eign Min­istry reit­er­at­ed the neces­si­ty to respect the mer­i­toc­ra­cy prin­ci­ple, to main­tain a geo­graph­i­cal bal­ance and an equal treat­ment of all cat­e­gories of staff, and to ensure an impor­tant role for the mem­ber states in the selec­tion process.”1111Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Press release: Întreved­er­ile min­istru­lui Afac­er­ilor Externe cu Înal­tul Reprezen­tant pen­tru Afac­eri Externe şi Polit­i­ca de Secu­ri­tate şi cu comis­arul euro­pean pen­tru extin­dere şi polit­i­ca de vecină­tate, 23 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=42834 (last access: 17 May 2010). These prin­ci­ples were dou­bled by what Teodor Bacon­schi called “an inven­to­ry of all the posi­tions with­in the EU […] to which Roma­nia could, rea­son­ably, aspire to.”1212Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Inter­view at the Roman­ian Nation­al Radio on 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=42241 (last access: 17 May 2010). Roman­ian Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (MEPs), such as Adri­an Sev­erin of the Social­ist group, expressed a sim­i­lar atti­tude as regards the Euro­pean diplo­ma­cy stat­ing in var­i­ous press arti­cles that we, as Euro­peans, need to cre­ate an “effi­cient Exter­nal Action Ser­vice” as the “EU needs an active for­eign pol­i­cy, guid­ed by com­mon Euro­pean objec­tives and based on our com­mon val­ues.”1313Maria CORA: Par­la­men­tul Euro­pean: un rol mai put­er­nic în definirea şi apli­carea politicii externe a UE, Curierul Nation­al, 12 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.curierulnational.ro/Opinii/2010–03-12/Parlamentul+European:+un+rol+mai++puternic+in+definirea+si+aplicarea+politicii+externe+a+UE (last access: 17 May 2010).

Empowering the people – the European Citizen’s Initiative

In order to coun­ter­act the accu­sa­tions of the so-called “demo­c­ra­t­ic deficit”, the Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive is designed to allow, for the first time, Euro­pean cit­i­zens “to direct­ly pro­pose ini­ti­a­tion of some new leg­isla­tive mea­sures”. A top­ic of inter­est main­ly for spe­cialised legal sites, the main con­cerns regard its acces­si­bil­i­ty and demo­c­ra­t­ic char­ac­ter: “It is impor­tant that this new char­ac­ter­is­tic of the demo­c­ra­t­ic process be cred­i­ble, ensure the full pro­tec­tion of per­son­al char­ac­ter data and not allow abuse or fraud.”1414Avocatnet.ro: Cetăţenii europeni vor putea avea iniţia­tivă leg­isla­tivă, 31 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.avocatnet.ro/content/articles/id_18904/Cetatenii-europeni-vor-putea-avea-initiativa-legislativa.html (last access: 17 May 2010). If those con­sid­er­a­tions are to be tak­en seri­ous­ly and accom­plished, then we are about to assist, in President’s Tra­ian Bases­cu view, a dra­mat­ic shift of pow­er from the mem­ber state lev­el to the grass­roots, to the ordi­nary Euro­pean cit­i­zen, who will be able from now on to take a more active role with­in the EU leg­isla­tive process. “The effi­cient use of the new insti­tu­tion­al frame­work depends both on each mem­ber state indi­vid­u­al­ly and on the man­ner in which it reports itself to the Union, and on the Euro­pean cit­i­zens. They will be able to have an aug­ment­ed involve­ment in Euro­pean affairs. They will be able to use the inno­va­tions of the Lis­bon Treaty, such as the Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive. We must be ready to assume as active a role as pos­si­ble in the Euro­pean Union includ­ing at the citizen’s lev­el.”1515Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băsescu’s Speech at the recep­tion offered on the occa­sion of Europe’s Day, 7 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/index.php?_RID=det&tb=date&id=12087&_PRID=search (last access: 17 May 2010).

All those high hopes must have a sol­id basis; oth­er­wise, we will face a ter­ri­ble dis­ap­point­ment, stat­ed the Roman­ian social­ist MEP Vic­tor Boşti­naru some­what dra­mat­i­cal­ly. The Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive must become “an instru­ment of direct democ­ra­cy and not a dis­ap­point­ment” and for that a new set of rules must be imple­ment­ed. What will those new rules be? Here, Vic­tor Boşti­naru came with a con­crete set of mea­sures, designed, in his opin­ion, to ensure an effi­cient use of this new demo­c­ra­t­ic tool: an “ex-ante” check­ing of the admis­si­bil­i­ty of the ini­tia­tive; a clear and con­crete def­i­n­i­tion of the areas in which the Ini­tia­tive can be launched and where it can­not be used; clear and rig­or­ous admis­si­bil­i­ty cri­te­ria; and an estab­lished impact of the ini­tia­tive on the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, includ­ing type and reac­tion time.1616Social Demo­c­rat Par­ty web­site: Boşti­naru on the Citizen’s Ini­tia­tive: An instru­ment of direct democ­ra­cy and not a dis­ap­point­ment, 28 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3115 (last access: 17 May 2010). These detailed pro­pos­als were com­plet­ed by anoth­er social­ist MEP, Ioan Enciu, who rec­om­mend­ed the neces­si­ty to con­sult the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment before the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion drafts a leg­isla­tive act based upon a Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive in order to “har­monise, in the incip­i­ent sta­tus, the elab­o­ra­tion of the Euro­pean poli­cies and to pre­vent the dou­bling, or even the rep­e­ti­tion of the leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tives.”1717Ioan ENCIU: EP must be con­sult­ed by the EC with regard to the per­ti­nence of a Citizen’s Ini­tia­tive pro­pos­al, Brux­elles, 15 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3350 (last access: 17 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Bog­dan MĂNOIU, Min­is­ter, Depart­ment for Euro­pean Affairs: Speech held on 21 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.dae.gov.ro/articol/787/bogdan-manoiu-a-participat-la-simpozionul-despre-tratatul-de-la-lisabona (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 2“Her­man van Rompuy în viz­ită la Bucureşti”, 18 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.rfi.ro/stiri/politica/Herman-van-Rompuy-in-vizita-la-Bucuresti.html (last access: 17 May 2010). The top­ics of inter­est were rather numer­ous with an accent on eco­nom­ic issues.
  • 3Eveni­men­tul Zilei: Motorul Lis­abona propulsează vise­le europene, 1 Jan­u­ary 1 2010, avail­able at: http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/motorul-lisabona-propulseaza-visele-europene-881221.html (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 4Nico­lae FILIPESCU: Imple­mentarea Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona, Revista 22, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/implementarea-tratatului-de-la-lisabona-7601.html (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 5Paul IVAN, Mihai PANAITE, Cipri­an CIUCU, Robert UZUNĂ: Uni­unea Euro­peană se adaptează din mers Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona — Pri­or­ităţile preşed­inţiei span­iole şi intere­se­le României, Pol­i­cy Memo no. 6, Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_6_ro.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 6Nico­lae FILIPESCU: Imple­mentarea Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona, Revista 22, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.revista22.ro/implementarea-tratatului-de-la-lisabona-7601.html (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 7Lucian DARDALA: Un tehno­crat dis­cret: Cather­ine Ash­ton, Ziarul de Iasi, 22 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ziaruldeiasi.ro/opinii/un-tehnocrat-discret-catherine-ashton~ni684v (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 8Paul IVAN/Mihai PANAITE/Ciprian CIUCU/Robert UZUNA: Uni­unea Euro­peană se adaptează din mers Tratat­u­lui de la Lis­abona — Pri­or­ităţile preşed­inţiei span­iole şi intere­se­le României, Pol­i­cy Memo no. 6, Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.crpe.ro/library/files/crpe_policy_memo_6_ro.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 9Inter­view with Teodor Bacon­schi on 9 Jan­u­ary 2010 at the Roman­ian State Tele­vi­sion, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=41792 (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 10Ibid.
  • 11Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Press release: Întreved­er­ile min­istru­lui Afac­er­ilor Externe cu Înal­tul Reprezen­tant pen­tru Afac­eri Externe şi Polit­i­ca de Secu­ri­tate şi cu comis­arul euro­pean pen­tru extin­dere şi polit­i­ca de vecină­tate, 23 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=42834 (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 12Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Inter­view at the Roman­ian Nation­al Radio on 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=42241 (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 13Maria CORA: Par­la­men­tul Euro­pean: un rol mai put­er­nic în definirea şi apli­carea politicii externe a UE, Curierul Nation­al, 12 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.curierulnational.ro/Opinii/2010–03-12/Parlamentul+European:+un+rol+mai++puternic+in+definirea+si+aplicarea+politicii+externe+a+UE (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 14Avocatnet.ro: Cetăţenii europeni vor putea avea iniţia­tivă leg­isla­tivă, 31 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.avocatnet.ro/content/articles/id_18904/Cetatenii-europeni-vor-putea-avea-initiativa-legislativa.html (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 15Pres­i­dent Tra­ian Băsescu’s Speech at the recep­tion offered on the occa­sion of Europe’s Day, 7 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.presidency.ro/index.php?_RID=det&tb=date&id=12087&_PRID=search (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 16Social Demo­c­rat Par­ty web­site: Boşti­naru on the Citizen’s Ini­tia­tive: An instru­ment of direct democ­ra­cy and not a dis­ap­point­ment, 28 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3115 (last access: 17 May 2010).
  • 17Ioan ENCIU: EP must be con­sult­ed by the EC with regard to the per­ti­nence of a Citizen’s Ini­tia­tive pro­pos­al, Brux­elles, 15 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.psd.ro/newsroom.php?newi_id=3350 (last access: 17 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.