“All EU Member States have committed themselves to abide by the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including by respecting the freedom and pluralism of the media. Any restrictions of that freedom risk undermining the independence of media. An independent media is the cornerstone of our European democracies, enabling citizens to form their own opinions and not be steered in one way or another by any stakeholder, including the state. On January 7, 2016 a new law came into force in Poland on public service media which features new measures depriving the independent national authority, the KRRiT, of the power to nominate and dismiss the management and supervisory boards of the public service broadcasters, and transferring this power to the Minister of State Treasury.
The European Union will have to take measures with respect to the new Polish government if it does not want to jeopardise the credibility of the European values. To send a clear signal to the new Polish government, it has to be willing to exploit the entire range of options under the rule-of-law mechanism and the procedure in accordance with Article 7 as well as to limit EU payments to Poland. Read more
In 2016, the British people might have their final say on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The Finnish parliament will discuss a potential withdrawal from the Euro zone after 50,000 signatures had been collected in a petition. And the French people will elect a new president in the spring of 2017. Currently, France‘s most powerful political party is the Front National. Its goals are to leave the Euro zone and to re-impose protectionist tariffs as well as border controls.
On January 17 President Obama started hisspeech about the NSA with remarks about the long history of US intelligence activities since the dawn of the American Revolution. He exemplified how intelligence has helped to secure the country and to support the military throughout American history.
History is often a good starting point for a speech, at least for a European citizen. However, in a discussion about the right balance between security and freedom the history of freedom should not be forgotten.
It is not easy to say where to start, but any deliberation of the matter should not neglect James Otis’ speech from 1761 against the writs of assistance. The writs were general warrants allowing officials of the British Crown to search for smuggled material within any suspected premises of the so called American colonies at that time. For James Otis one of the most essential branches of Liberty was the freedom of one’s house. In his speech he referred toSir Edward Coke’sfamous statement that “A man’s home is his castle – for where shall he be safe if it not be in his house?” This is much more modern than it sounds. In times of rapidly growing technological capabilities and of automatic industrial data collection the question is to whom personal data belongs and what government officials should be allowed to store? In Sir Edward Coke’s words: where does the house end in the twenty-first century? Is a smart phone with all its personal data and including the metadata of calls still part of a man’s house?
“Indeed, the euro area cannot prosper if its third largest economy has a potential growth rate of zero. Italy has to grow, and this will not happen by waiting for the cycle to turn. The challenges for Italy are long-term and the solution is structural. We need only look at the trends to see this: its real growth rate was 5% in the 1950s, 4% in the 1960s, 3% in the 1970s, 2% in the 1980s, 1% in the 1990s, and 0% in the 2000s.Italy is too big to be rescued from the outside, it has to make the turnaround on its own. Its fate will critically determine the fate of the euro area.”
Will Jean-Claude Juncker go down in history as the President of the European Commission under which the European Union will break up?
The European Council might have discussed and decided yesterday the strategic agenda for the next five years, for Jean-Claude Junker, the nominated President of the European Commission there is one first and foremost outstandingly important task: keeping the Union together. Assumed that David Cameron will be re-elected in 2015, there might be a British referendum by 2017 to leave the EU – or to continue to stay in it. With a publicly known No from David Cameron to support Junker’s nomination as the next President of the European Commission, the task did not become easier.
If we look for a new President of the European Commission it is good to have a common understanding of his role and tasks. The second point is: which agenda should be driven forward?
First, the role and tasks of the President:
Representing the Union and Heading the European Commission
Representing the Union – especially together with the President of the Parliament and the President of the European Council. Lay down guidelines within which the Commission – as one of the seven ‘constitutional’ bodies of the Union – is to work, decide on the internal organisation of the Commission, ensuring that it acts consistently, efficiently and as a collegiate body; appoint Vice-Presidents from among the members of the Commission, other than the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Art. 17,6 TEU).
Promoting the general interest of the European Union and taking appropriate initiatives
Driving the Union forward by delivering a future-oriented and lean legal framework for the welfare of all 28 Member states and its citizens. Executing the exclusive initiative right in matters where the community method applies. Providing political thought leadership for the European Union, e.g. through speeches and upon occurrences such as the State of the Union address. Initiate the Union’s annual and multiannual programming with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements. Execute the budget and manage programmes. Exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, as laid down in the Treaties. (Art. 17,1 TEU).
In recent years there were several European politicians who called for a „United States of Europe“ – among them nobody less than the former Head of Government in Italy, Enrico Letta, or the Vice President of the European Union,Viviane Reding.
I do not consider the term „United States of Europe“ as appropriate for the European Union or Europe.
First, I consider it as a fortune to live – together now with nearly 500 millions of other European citizens and since December 1, 2009 – in a Europe in which fundamental rights are protected by one law. After nearly eight decades of hot and cold war, of ideologies like fascism and communism, the charter of fundamental rights guarantees freedom and human rights for all citizens of the European Union. A single view of the current world is enough to understand that even this is everything else than a matter of course. It is precious and worth to be protected – against all enemies.
Second, the crisis of recent years – since the revelation of the Greek deficit in the end of 2009 – has shown the overwhelming need for reform and development of our European Union.
Third, I do have a view in which Europe I want to live. More about this in the articles to follow. However, I do not see my views and ideas enough expressed or fully represented in current politics.
Fourth, the internet provides a direct and fast interaction as never before with all people who want to get involved. Time and participation are crucial for the renewal of our European Union.