(Un)openess of the decisional process on EU level

“The problem is not in the lack of confidence into the EU institutions, but in the decision process, which is not part of the public sphere because of its secrecy”. This tweet is a reaction (for which I am very thankful) to my interview on the e-participation of citizens, that was published on the website of the Institute for electronic participation (InEPA). As 140 characters are not enough to answer to it, I decided to write my answer here. Briefly I can say just the following – the lack of confidence into the EU institutions (and the consequent feeling of impotence) is a consequence of the lack of knowledge of their work and of the decision process. Which is in fact not even so closed as it seems.

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Free movement of persons – fundamental right or privilege?

The free movement of persons (or workers) is at least as old as the process of European integration and represents one of the four fundamental rights on which the EU is based. The range of rights expanded through the years, specially via the EU Court rulings, and today we are allowed to move, live and work in any EU country. When we are asking ourselves what the EU has done to/for us, we can without any doubt say that the free movement of its citizens is one of the most important achievements of the EU. In fact it is so important, that we consider it as granted. Unfortunately, actions from some countries (particularly those of the UK who wants to limit the free movement of EU citizens) show that even if something is considered as granted, we have to keep working to maintain it.

(Source: European Union 2014)

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Europe’s position on GMOs and what’s in store

Vir: modernfarmer.com
Vir: modernfarmer.com

The European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will vote today on the new rules regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Read more on what the new legislation has to offer, how long can a legislative procedure last if it drags into a second reading and when can a final decision be expected.

There are only two GMOs currently  allowed for cultivation in the European Union and only one of them is actually grown. The MON 810 maize, to which the genetic modification provides protection against parasites, has been confirmed for cultivation as early as 1998. Currently, it is grown in five Member States (Spain, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia) and represents 1.56% of all maize grown in the EU and 0 26% of all GM maize in the world. In 2010 cultivation and processing was also approved for a genetically modified potato called “Amflora”, but since 2011, it is no longer cultivated.

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ECB stress tests: More stress for banks or citizens?

Source: forexinfo.com

Results of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) stress tests for European banks were published last Sunday. Twenty-four banks out ob 123 failed the tests, including two biggest Slovenian banks, Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB) and Nova kreditna banka maribor (NKBM). Twelve out of these 24 banks have already raised enough capital to secure their businesses in case of severe stress and the tests are this time seen as quite positive.

But what do these stress tests really show and what do they mean for the population of a country that the banks are from? 

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New Commission – all’s well that ends well?

151 days after the EP elections, the European Union should today get the 12th Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker. After all the problems, insinuations and controversies Slovenia too got its commissioner. This post will be held by Violeta Bulc, who successfully underwent Monday’s hearing. The naming process was very difficult and, unfortunately, Slovenia emerged very ridiculed. Some other candidates were also controversial (Jonathan Hill, Tibor Navracsics, Miguel Arias Cañete), however not so much as the Slovenian candidate. In any case, it’s no use crying over split milk. What can we therefore change until 2019, when the next Commission would be named, to minimize any future problems?

The team is completed (Source: Greens/EFA)

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Erasmus: The guy that made student exchange possible for 3 million young Europeans

Vir: Evropska komisija
Vir: Evropska komisija/Source: European Commission

The program of the European Union, named after the Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, is one of the most successful instruments of the Union. Since its creation in 1987 it has enabled 3 million students to study or work abroad for a period of up to one year. By 2020, Erasmus+ plans to increase this number further by an additional million.

In today’s analysis, find out:
* Why Erasmus is not only an exchange, but an experience,
* Why its easier to find work for Erasmus students,
* How to apply for an exchange and how to get financing,
* And who the H** was Erasmus.

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Climate change: What Europe has to offer

The UN General Secretary seems to agree with Europe – Each action counts. Source. UN

The Climate summit took place yesterday at the occasion of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) yesterday. Ban Ki-Moon, General Secretary of the UN, called for this summit with the aim of putting the issue of climate change back on the top of agendas of over 120 world leaders, even though a regular UN climate conference is foreseen for this December. The European Union is represented in New York by the outgoing President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard and Commissioner for development aid Andris Piebalgs. Can Europe use its exaple to stimulate other countries towards a more serious climate action? Which policies does it have at its disposal? Well, Ban Ki-Moon preferred to bet his money on Leonardo Di Caprio.

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Scottish D day – #YesScotland or #BetterTogether

Tomorrow, more than 4 millions of Scots will decide about Scottish independence on a referendum. The latest opinion polls are suggesting a very narrow result. In the latest poll made by Panelbase on September 12th the difference between the supporters and the opponents is just 1 percent – 47 % against, 46 % in favour, while 7 % of people is still undecided. A “yes” tomorrow will, however, represent just the beginning of the Scottish independence journey. As in every separation, the parties will need to convene on several issues. A separation from the UK will affect also Scotland’s relations with the EU. Would Scotland automatically become the 29th member state of the Union or will it need to enter in the queue as every other candidate State? As we are talking about the EU, there is no common opinion on this issue.

Yes or no? (Source: BBC News)
Yes or no? (Source: BBC News)

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European Parliament priorities until the end of the year: Commissioners, finances, energy and foreign policy

koledar september
EP Calendar September 2014. Source: EP

As schools re-open their doors, so do the Members of the European Parliament return to their offices in Brussels. The first day after recess, 1st September, was this time even more interesting for the MEPs as it’s also the first day after the elections. New MEPs have arrived and some old ones were re-elected in order to represent their constituencies in the only supranational parliament in the world. Political groups represented in the European Parliament of 2014-2019 now hold a different balance than they had in the previous mandate. Here, we present some main topics, which the MEPs will have to address before the end of this year. All deliberations of the European Parliament and its Committees can be followed live with interpretation at EPTV.

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Where are we with the new Commission

While in Slovenia, where the outgoing government sent to the president-elect of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker a list of three nominees for the Slovenian commissioner, we are still discussing about the legitimacy and even legality of such nomination, the new Commission team is slowly forming. Even if it was expected that the whole team would be put together before Saturday’s European Council summit, it seems rather impossible. In fact, on Saturday it is expected the nomination of the new president of the European Council and the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The naming of this two figures will play an important role in the filling of the Commissioners seats.

The road to the new Commission (Vir: European Parliament 2014)

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