At their Summit in Strasbourg / Kehl on 3 and 4 April 2009, NATO’s Heads of State and Government tasked the Secretary General to develop a new NATO Strategic Concept. This exercise should be completed by the time of NATO’s next Summit, which is expected to take place towards the end of 2010.
NATO’s new strategic concept: link
The report can be found directly on the following link.
As the European Security Strategy recognises that predicted global climate change will have increasing impact on stability and security in many regions around the world and more particularly in Asia and Africa, and in the context of the forthcoming new NATO strategic concept, the set up of an environmental security strategy is more than needed.
It is important to analyse commonality of assessment between the EU and NATO of predicted global climate change as a factor of instability and insecurity in the most vulnerable places in the world, especially in terms of climate change as a driver of current or future conflicts. Climate change consequences like resource depletion, drought and floods, famine and mass migration, might have a direct impact on EU and NATO security interests.
The adequacy of existing NATO and EU capacities to respond to climate change driven catastrophes and the extent to which existing civilian, policing and military capabilities and assets could be deployed or adapted to meet these future challenges should be assessed.
It would be necessary to recommend measures and modifications to training – through NATO’s ACT described above – and to procurement policies, necessary to improve the EU and NATO’s ability to respond to such crisis.
Existing command and control structures and policies in the context of their applicability to the long-term nature of likely climate-driven crisis and conflicts should be reviewed.
The potential for burden-sharing and specialisation between the EU Member States and NATO allies to optimize resource allocation, civilian, policing and military assets which are required for crisis response and conflicts, whether climate driven or not should be explored.
At present, the climate change issue is only mentioned in the new report presented by the group of experts, chaired by Madeleine Albright.
Taking into account environmental security related to it in the new strategic concept would be a breakthrough.
The European Parliament is directly elected institution, which represents about 500 million citizens and their interests which are of course very differing. The EP is in close co-operation with the European Commission and European Council; together they produce legislation on issues affecting our daily lives, for example environment protection, consumer rights, equality, transport and the free movement of people, capital and services. Not to mention human rights.
The subjects or topics I am engaged in are mainly connected to the committees and delegations I sit at, although these are rather close to my heart as well.
Among them is, for instance, Iceland, the country that 1st recognised the restoration of the independence of Estonia in 1991. Currently the negotiations on Iceland’s possible accession to the EU are being held. But does the small island-state itself event want to join? Recent polls have showed that people are rather sceptical, even the political groups in Althingi have been said to debate on the issue quite seriously. If Iceland were a Member State, its economic prospects might look better than they do currently in view of the so-called Icesave case, although the latter will not be tied to the negotiations. The EU on the other hand may have a stronger voice in the Arctic region. And this is a region that will attract very much attention in the years to come…
As former Chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia, I was appointed the Green shadow rapporteur in AFCO regarding the European External Action Service report. Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium, EPP) and Elmar Brok (Germany, S&D) were jointly writing the report on how the new “Ministry of Foreign Affairs EU” must be constructed. This involved months of work on when and where to emphasise Human Rights, how to set up crisis prevention and management, who should be in charge of the delegations, how to deploy development aid, how much and in what areas should the EP have control over their budget and so on.
Of course having such an institution as the EEAS is vital if the EU will want to speak with one voice on a global level – or with its neighbours, for that matter. The issue of energy security is the first practical challenge that comes to mind…
This autumn the European Parliament adopted the Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Spain, EPP) resolution on security of gas supply, which calls for the EU to introduce a regulation in order to further secure gas and energy supply in Europe. The document contains several methods and ideas on how to prevent future gas conflicts as seen in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian problems in recent years. This regulation would provide preventive safety measures to ensure that nobody would be left in to the cold.
This reminds that one has to think beyond (but not excluding) its national borders in Europe. Internet freedom and intellectual property rights are issues that affect us all, especially when EU will introduce reforms in this field in the near future regardless whether you are a consumer or a provider of Internet content, be it written articles, music or videos. How should the EU respond to illegal file sharing? We are living in the 21st century and we all download a variety of things from the net. But what about the people that provide the content? If we chose to restrict downloading in today’s form, what measures can be taken? To what extent can we monitor peoples’ activities online? As anyone may guess, these questions affect us all.
Should there be introduced any directives or regulations on a EU level that the citizens will regard unsuitable, lacking or simply bad and they wish to change it – or even call for creating an entirely new EU policy – they have the chance to do so with the European Citizen Initiative. This is a project going to be launched next year, with the aim of giving EU’s citizens the right to introduce an idea for new legislation by the Commission; the latter has to respond and justify its answer and action that will or will not follow.
This is undoubtedly a big step in the development of the citizen society, moreover that all people from all Member States can have a say. This all will have to follow strict rules that are currently in the making. For example, according to the latest state of play, at least 1 million signatures have to be collected from at least 1/3 of the Member States, plus the number of signatures has to be proportionate to the population of that state. This opens up an even greater window of opportunity for small countries. As for now, the setting up of the system continues.
The Lisbon Treaty introduces a new form of public participation in European Union policy shaping, the European citizens’ initiative (ECI). It is widening up the sphere of public debate, allowing citizens to participate more intensively in the democratic life of the Union.
Since the December 2009, when the treaty entered into force, the European Commission, whilst retaining its initiative and therefore not being bound to make a proposal following a citizens’ initiative, it is committed to carefully examine all initiatives that fall within the framework of its powers in order to consider whether a new policy proposal would be appropriate. Through this new “participatory democracy” tool, the citizens shall have more opportunity take part of the EU debates, bringing Europe closer to its citizens.
According to the new treaty, the initiative must have the support of at least one million citizens from at least one third of the member states (i.e. at the moment from 9 MS ) for the Commission to consider it.
The European Commission has now adopted a proposal for a Regulation on the citizen’s initiative, which states in greater detail which regulations the Europeans should follow when proposing an initiative. According to the proposal, the fixed threshold of signatures in each MS must be degressively proportional to the population of each Member State. It means that in the four smaller MS the amount of signatures to be gathered is 4 500, and in the biggest MS, Germany, 72 000 citizen’s signatures. This proportionality principle has awoken a lot of dissatisfaction and disputes among the MEPs (similarily to the EEAS discussion), since collecting 72 000 signatures is far more complicated than to get the support of only 4 500 citizens.
Once at least 300 000 signatures have been gathered from three Member States, the initiative will be presented to the Commission. The Commission then has to check the admissibility of it, and decide whether the initiative falls within its powers and is in an area where legislation is possible. The Commission would have four months to examine the initiative itself. It would then have to decide whether to make a legislative proposal, to follow up the issue for example with a study, or not to take any further action.
In case of the green light, i.e. a positive answer by the Commission, the initiative organiser has one year to collect the necessary signatures.
It is important that this new feature of the democratic process should be credible, should fully assure data protection and should not be open to abuse or fraud. To avoid fraud, the citizens have to provide their home address, date of birth, nationality and personal identity number (national ID card, passport or social security number. This point might become an obstacle when collecting signatures because only few would agree giving such detailed personal data.
The organisers must also provide the information about funding. Transparency is the key word of this new democratic instrument. But as citizen’s rights and data protection are constantly very important issues, there are ongoing disputes and discussions about how detailed personal data the citizens should provide.
The Commission hopes that the Council and Parliament will reach final agreement on the ECI before the end of this year, to allow the first initiatives to be brought forward in 2011.
For more information on ECI, please read:
Lissaboni lepingule kirjutasid 13. detsembril 2007. aastal alla 27 Euroopa Liidu liikmesriiki. Uutes põhimõtetes kokku leppides lähtusid riigipead ja valitsusjuhid poliitilistest, majanduslikest ja ühiskondlikest muutustest, kuid püüdsid samal ajal arvesse võtta ka kodanike lootusi ja ootusi. Lissaboni lepingus on määratletud, mida EL võib ja ei või teha, ning milliseid vahendeid ta selleks kasutada võib. Sellega muudetakse ELi institutsioonide struktuuri ja nende töömeetodeid ning kõige selle tulemusena on EL demokraatlikum ja tema põhiväärtused on paremini kindlustatud.
Leping jõustus 1. detsembril 2009 pärast seda, kui kõik ELi riigid olid selle oma riikliku korra kohaselt ratifitseerinud.
Lissaboni lepinguga parandatakse ja ajakohastatakse varasemaid ELi leppeid. Leppe kohaselt saab otsevalitud Euroopa Parlament suuremad volitused ELi otsustamisprotsessis sellistes valdkondades nagu siseküsimused ja põllumajandus ning eelarve muudab ELi tervikuna demokraatlikult aruandvamaks.
Mõne erandiga seab see Euroopa Parlamendi seadusandjana võrdsele alusele nõukoguga, et esindada liikmesriike valdkondades, kus see seni nii ei toimunud, nagu ELi eelarve koostamine (parlament on täielikult samaväärne nõukoguga), põllumajanduspoliitika, ning justiits- ja siseküsimused. Liikmesriikide parlamendid saavad õiguse ettepaneku suhtes vastuargumente esitada, kui nad leiavad, et tulemusi saab paremini saavutada pigem liikmesriigi kui ELi tasandil.
Euroopa Komisjoni presidendi valivad ELi riigipead ja valitsusjuhid Euroopa valimiste tulemustele toetudes ning valiku peab heaks kiitma Euroopa Parlament. Ka ELi välispoliitika kõrge esindaja peab saama Euroopa Parlamendi heakskiidu.
Ka kodanike õigusi tugevdatakse. Lissaboni leping muudab ELi põhiõiguste harta ELi jaoks siduvaks, mis tähendab, et ELi institutsioonid peavad austama kodanike kodanikuõigusi, poliitilisi, majanduslikke või sotsiaalseid õigusi. Uus kodanike algatuse õigus võimaldab miljon allkirja koguda suutnud kodanikerühmadel kutsuda komisjoni üles esitama uusi õigusakti ettepanekuid. See suurendab kodanike osalemist ELi otsustamisprotsessis.
Lepingu eesmärk on ka ELi otsustamisprotsessi tõhususe parandamine seeläbi, et sagedamini hakatakse kasutama kvalifitseeritud häälteenamusega hääletamist, mis asendab ühehäälsuse ning hõlbustab nii kokkulepetele jõudmist ministrite nõukogus. Uus Euroopa Ülemkogu president ja välispoliitika kõrge esindaja peaksid parandama ELi tegevuse järjepidevust.
Hetkel on Põhiseaduskomisjonis käimasolevatest menetlustest kaks olulisimat briti liberaaldemokraat Andrew DUFFi raport ettepaneku kohta muuta Euroopa Parlamendi liikmete valimist otsestel ja üldistel valimistel käsitlevat 20. septembri 1976. aasta akti, ning prantslasest Euroopa Rahvapartei (kristlike demokraatide) liikme Alain LAMASSOURE’i ja sotsiaaldemokraadi Zita GURMAI (Ungari) kahasse kirjutatud raport Euroopa Kodanikualgatuse kohta. Viimane ongi üks olulisimatest muudatustest, mis Lissaboni lepingu kaasa tõi.
Põhiseaduskomisjonis käib samuti pidevalt arutelu ELi üldeelarve ja ELi institutsioonide toimimise omavahelise ning koostöö üle. Siin on taaskord suur roll mängida Lissbaoni lepingul, millega muudeti ELi institutsioonilist arhitektuuri.