The IT (Indrek Tarand) Initiative is my extraordinary bid (as an independently elected member of the Greens/EFA Group) to be elected into the Bureau of the European Parliament. Besides the fact that Estonia is well-recognised IT power state, which coincidentally takes on the responsibilities of the rotating EU presidency in second half of 2017, there are other, more intrinsic reasons to be considered. So indeed, why should you support me for one of the 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament?
1. To refresh a somewhat rigid system by holding true elections
It sounds a bit radical, doesn’t it? In reality it is nothing more than political pluralism, a cornerstone of true democracy, which by definition means actual elections instead of appointments by acclamation.
We all are used to the fact, that the current system leads to confirming foregone conclusions. How should one act when the leader of the S&D Group, Mr. Pitella, has announced the end of the Grand Coalition? Perhaps to prevent the collapse of the established reliable system, and thereby introducing total change, we could just hit “refresh” by bringing in an independent candidate from a small group and even smaller member state?
2. To give a fair chance to smaller players
We all understand that the size of the population and of the economy matter in determining member state’s “weight” in taking our common decisions. While it is true that the smaller states are protected by the so-called regressive proportionality, it is next to impossible to imagine an MEP from a country like Estonia ever becoming a member of the bureau in EP. Why? Because the size of the so-called national delegation matters as well. For example – the Estonian delegation in EPP, S&D, ALDE and Greens consist of only the heads of delegations themselves (read 1 member only). In EPP it equals to power of 1/200, in the Greens 1/50th. However, it is impossible to become a candidate even in the Greens/EFA Group, because you may represent 18% of your country’s electorate (same proportion as Greens in Austria), but you still have one vote against Austrian 3. Hence the only option for a MEP from such a tiny country to become a candidate is with 40 plus signatures.
3. Ideas to be tested and perhaps executed
My promise is simple and does not echo the powerful, but sometimes non-specific phrases about „even more Europe”. Yes, I am truly pro-European, but I take a very pragmatic view about what there is to be done in order to restore the citizen’s trust in the union.
One of the few things to be attempted is to enhance the role of the Parliament as an equal co-legislator. This requires a review of our ability to influence budgetary performance of the Union in general, starting with our own institution. The smallest excess in our own spending or slightest mishap regarding transparency may damage our institution more than any anti-European rhetoric can. We must be exemplary in our dealings, which in turn would give us a more authoritative position vis-à-vis other institutions (as executer of parliamentary scrutiny).
In the budgetary aspect, there are three main players in the European Parliament, namely the BUDG and CONT committees, but also the bureau. Currently members from these two committees are not represented in the bureau. I am already a member of both committees, and thereby I would provide the missing link if elected to the bureau.
As a firm supporter of good digital solutions such as AT4AM and e-Portal, which have somewhat alleviated our administrative burden, I pledge to continue on this forward thinking path (by pushing for more innovative and user-friendly solutions as a VP).
I support Gender balance, and these are not just empty words, I have been promoting the inclusion of women in the public sector since the mid-90s when I was director general of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and had to set up the whole diplomatic corps after the fall of the Soviet Union).
Furthermore, I will provide:
-Respect and fair treatment to all MEPs. Meaning that Rules of Procedure should be applied in a fair and uniform way to all of MEPs and political groups, no matter the colour or background.
-Openness to engage with each member, and to accommodate their thoughts and ideas to improve the everyday handling of business as well as to increase the power of the Parliament.
The creation of the EEAS is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Its aim is to make EU’s external policy more consistent and efficient, thereby strengthening EU’s political and economic influence in the world.
This new service is aimed at assisting the High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in fulfilling her mandate.
EEAS shall include officials from the Council and the Commission, as well as staff from the national diplomatic services of the 27 EU Member States. It will work in close cooperation with the national diplomatic services of the member states and its delegations outside EU, playing a supporting role regarding diplomatic and consular protection and help of EU citizens in third countries.
Jointly with the European Parliament the service is expected to get up and running as soon as possible. The Council shall adopt the launching of the EEAS on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the EP and getting an approval from the Commission. The necessary financial and staff regulations, as well as the draft amending budget shall be adopted by co-decision with the EP.
From the 1st of January, 2011, 1525 officials from the office of the Secretary General of the Commission and Council shall be sent to the external action service. There is also an additional 100 newly created posts. In the EEAS there are 1625 posts altogether. The service shall comprise one central administrating unit and 136 formal European Commission’s delegations. The Service headquarters is in Brussels.
Despite the fact that the “double-hatted” HR promised that “the recruitment will be based on merit, with the objective of securing the services of staff of the highest standard of ability, efficiency and integrity, while ensuring adequate geographical balance”, it is now clear that in reality so far there is no such balance regarding the appointment of officials. Naturally it has created a lot of disapproval among the MEPs and debates on the matter are ongoing.
Indeed, it is in the member state’s interest to, for example, present more female candidates for the senior overseas jobs. At the moment, only 11 out of the 115 ambassadors are female. 11 member states are over-represented while 16 are under-represented.
Only two of the newly appointed 115 ambassadors are from EU new member states, and sadly enough, no Estonians among them. Candidates’ language skills, diplomatic job experience just did not reach the threshold of requirements for the posts. Also, alas, the new member states’ geographic position might have not been of advantage.
Catherine Ashton has voiced her criticism about this, talking about the creation of a “Western European old boys club” diplomatic service.
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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.