ACTA made us aware that democracy is not particularly popular among the Commission folks. Most EU Commissioners are unknown by the European peoples. EU-Commissioner Karel De Gucht (Belgium, OpenVLD) so far became more famous for inappropriate anti-semite remarks than his Trade portfolio at the European Commission. But Karel de Gucht had a dossier in his portfolio which raised broadest public attention among the European younger generation: ACTA.
Concerned of the ACTA dossier many citizens contacted the press staffers of his colleague Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Commissioner Michel Barnier is right when he emphasized the need for better communications. Karel De Gucht had the opportunity to embrace the public attention to ACTA, and strengthen the institutional cohesion with the European public, help the transformation of the EU towards an “Europe of the citizens”. He didn’t exercise this opportunity, and it appears to me the reason is a fundamental disrespect to democratic principles, he doesn’t take the public seriously.
At a recent Council Trade press conference Karel De Gucht, when requested by a Polish journalist, talked down on the Polish Parliament.
In Parliaments a lot of things are said. That is also what the Parliament is made for. I stick to the procedure.
Apparently that appears acceptable by Brussels standards but it’s not for me. He continued to mock the public “turmoil, public manifestations” in member states as Poland.
We have to bring the discussion – let’s say – back to the rational part.
Grist to the mill of the eurosceptic movement how they then advocate a concept of EU-loyalty to what anonymous persons from the executive brach have agreed to in secretive meetings which allegedly overrule national legislators. Apparently the role of Parliament is supposed to be loyal ratification. Even more awkward, when you consider the actual illoyality of the Criminal Sanction part harmonisation to the European Parliament.
Recently Members of the European Parliament officially complained at Commission President José Manuel Barroso how they learned about the Commission’s intent to referr ACTA to the European Court of Justice only by the press, contrary to Commissioner Karel De Gucht’s obligations under Art 218(10) EU Treaty “The European Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure.”
When Karel de Gucht fails to show the appropriate respect towards Parliament, you have to consider that he was once an MEP (1995-1999) himself. What was acceptable then is not acceptable anymore. We cannot affort Parliaments be treated like talking shops. The democratic deficit of the Commission needs to be resolved.
In Germany it is said that fish always stinks from the head downwards. This is how his top staffers show their respect for Parliament, via twitter from Geneva:
At the WTO TRIPS Council meeting, the EU negotiators were informally trashing the EU Parliament’s “theoretical” role in the #ACTA approval.
— James Love (@jamie_love) Februar 29, 2012
Worst of it, they are right.