15, November, 2011
Did you read about the passionate debate about the 2012 Budget? Did you hear about the how Parliament minutely and forensically interrogated the Commission about taxpayer’s money? Did you see how the Commissioner cowered as MEPs tore into the illogicality of its proposals? Did you cheer on seeing the riveting television when Parliamentarians shredded the arguments of Council of Ministers, declaring that they could not raise a cent of YOUR tax money without proper OPEN, DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION?
Are you now fully aware about HOW and WHY the EU leaders take European tax from your pocket and HOW MUCH it spends on your behalf and WHERE? Did you see how 27 democratic States of Europe vigorously debated their common budget in the European Union?
NEITHER DID I !!!
The MAIN Debate on the 2012 Budget was IN SECRET! AGAIN!! The doors of the room 5G3 in the Spinelli Building of the Brussels Parliament were closed on 8 November 2011. I asked for admittance showing my press credentials. I also said that I was a journalist. I was asked whether I was part of the Council delegation. I said: No. I was then asked, if I was part of the Commission delegation. I said: No. I was asked if I was with the Parliament. I said: No.
I re-affirmed that I was a journalist and wanted to report about the raising of European taxes and the spending of taxpayers’ money. I said it was a matter of the highest public interest. The Guardians of the Door who had a list of those who their bosses wanted to be admitted, refused to let me enter.
The European Union is now deep in the mire of a financial and monetary crisis. Both the finances and the money lack democratic legitimacy. At the heart of these problems is the illicit take-over of what are supposed to be independent institutions by a clique of politicians. Thus an oligarchic clique in Council dictates what 500 million citizens should do and how much they should pay. They also tell them what is good for them, whether they agree or not.
Consider. Who is in charge of the independent institutions?
- The Parliament says the meetings on raising and spending taxes should be open.
- The European Commission says such meetings should be open.
- The Consultative Committees don’t reply but they have open meetings.
- The Treaties say that all meetings from the initial consideration of tax and all stages about tax legislation should be open.
- Taxpayers demand that all meetings about taxation should be open, fair and just.
- The Council refuses to have open meetings.
There is a simple remedy in all the treaties from the founding treaty of 1951 to the Lisbon Treaty. ASK THE COURT TO DECIDE WHO IS RIGHT. Any national, regional Court or local tribunal where a civil association or even any individual is in dispute over European tax can have its judge ask the European Court for a judgment on the legality of the Council’s ‘secret taxation‘ system.
The European finances and the money system are controlled undemocratically by a coalition of the three major parties. Let us call it the Cartel. There is no real democratic Government and certainly no Opposition. The institutional independence required in the treaties is being systematically suspended by the Coup Leaders. The Cartel overrides the institutions.
- The European Commission, which is supposed to be composed of totally independent personalities, is now EXCLUSIVELY composed of card-carrying members of the political parties. They are chosen in secret. No real European is allowed to put his or her name forward. No Call for Candidates is allowed to be published for the posts that are paid for by taxpayers. All 27 States act in undemocratic unison.
- The Council of Ministers, which is supposed to represent national interests in a continuous open debate is now composed of a clique of party politicians who refuse to have proper discussions in the national parliaments or allow referendums. It is very far from its original role of initiating debate in the States with all the citizens that they supposedly represent. It is now a clique designed to stifle and stop debate at home.
- The European Parliament, which is supposed to hold the Commission to task, having the power to fire the Commission for incompetence or dereliction of duty, has become the Chorus for the Commission, now the Cartel secretariat, and other stronghold of the cartel, the Council. When it agreed to the Lisbon Treaty — without even publishing the full text — the Parliament gave up its PRIME POWER. The Lisbon Treaty made it impossible for the Parliament to sack the Commission. The Parliament, needless to say, has NEVER had an election according to the specifications of the treaties: direct elections according to a single statute for all Member States, not 27 statutes which favour the Cartel and eliminate other voices of citizens.
- The Consultative Committees, a vital debating and legislating chamber of organized civil society has NEVER been elected on a European basis. Schuman and Reuter (who was responsible for drafting the early treaties) declared the efforts of governments to prevent these elections ILLEGAL.
Who stopped the application of supranational democracy of the treaties? Who blocked a single statute for Parliamentary elections (when the Parliament had the courage to propose it)? Who stopped the Consultative Committees having elections for European organised societies?
The politicians in the Council of Ministers and now the European Council and its unofficial super-Eurogroup.
Why are the doors closed on Budget and Tax discussions? Who shut the doors?
A year ago I wrote to the President of the European Parliament about the closed doors of the Budget meeting of October 2010. I got no reply so I asked the Ombudsman to help.
On 1 June 2011, Mr Buzek replied:
As you know, the European Parliament’s policy is one of full openness and transparency in such meetings. Our own plenary sessions are public, as well as, in principle, committee meetings (exceptions to this rule are rare and must be duly motivated). Equally, the Treaty of Lisbon established the principle that Council should deliberate in public on legislative matters.
In the light of these factors, a discussion is currently on-going within the European Parliament concerning the status of conciliation meetings. However, I must draw your attention to the fact that any decision concerning public access to conciliation meetings requires an agreement of all the institutions involved, which has not been reached yet. As you will understand, it is not possible for the Parliament to impose unilaterally an ‘open door’ policy for such meetings. We will continue to work to find a satisfactory solution…
Comment: The fact that the doors are closed must have the agreement of all those ‘democrats’ who are attending and are responsible to the public. The public demand open meetings, especially on taking tax and spending tax. Do the ‘democrats’ lack the courage of their convictions? Who has priority — their electors or the politician-Cartelmasters in Council? Schuman and the Founding Fathers said the doors of European institutions including the Councils should be open so that the public can control what goes on. The Parliament has had SIXTY years from its foundational session on 10 September 1952 when it first met to resolve this problem of openness. How much more time does it require? Secondly the treaties provide a simple solution. The Court of Justice is empowered to decide on the interpretation of the Treaties — in particular whether all matters of taxation should follow the same rules on open debates about taxation as all the democracies that make up the EU. The Parliament is empowered to initiate the case.
What happens at budget meetings when the Council is not present? They SHUT THE DOORS TOO. This happened at the meeting of the Parliament leaders and the Commission on the one Trillion euro multi-annual Budget for 2013-2020. It was held in Parliament on 29 June 2011, on the sixth floor of the Spaak Building. Paul-Henri Spaak, the first president of the European Parliament would have shot up bolt upright in his grave!
The supposedly democratic institutions want one TRILLION from Taxpayers — but they were not going to tell them why, how they would go about it or whether there was any collusion between two institutions to do a dirty deal against the citizen!
Is the Council to blame for the secret Tax and Budget meeting when it is absent? Why was the meeting of the Commission and Parliament closed to the public? It is time for the so-called Democrats to clean up their act. It is the unseen hand of the Council that shuts the door — and pulls the strings.
On 4 July 2011, I therefore wrote again to President Buzek.
Dear President Buzek,
Thank you for your reply of 1 June 2011 to my letter of November 2010 concerning the exclusion of the press and the public from the Budget Conciliation Meetings in October and later on. (Ombudsman case 661/2011/RT) You mention that the Parliament’s policy ‘is one of full openness and transparency in such meetings‘ as the Budget. I am pleased to see your re-affirmation of Parliament’s responsibility towards the public — which is written into the treaties. The idea of a Parliament holding secret sessions is a contradiction of its purpose. Any exceptions must be reasoned with irrefutable logic, be properly motivated and democratically agreed and underpinned by law and jurisprudence. There should be no hint of political expediency. The principle must be that the public is also the partner of any democratic institution.
Because of past corruption, financial misappropriations and abuse of Wine Lakes, Meat Mountains and infrastructure funding scandals, the Lisbon Treaty spelt out clearly, as you say, the ‘principle that the Council should deliberate in public on legislative matters.‘
However I am at a loss as to why Parliament sees any question about the necessary public presence at the conciliation meetings. Nor do I understand why public access must stop when the Council acts contrary to what Parliament is convinced is the Treaty law for Europe. Public access and democratic debate is the paramount principle, not the whims and fancies of Council. Surely Parliament is an independent institution according to the law of the treaties and has been since the first session of the assembly on 10 September 1952 — nearly 60 years ago.
You write that ‘The status of the discussion in Council is a matter for which the Council, not the Parliament, is responsible‘. Surely the reverse applies equally. The Council must respect the laws of the Treaties and rules of Parliament. If as you say the Parliament is convinced of the legality of its case, it should not hesitate an instant to defend the rights of the public, especially when a meeting takes place inside a building of Parliament, where you, Mr President, and the Members are legally sovereign.
Public access to meetings considering the collection and use of the citizens’ own money should not be in dispute anywhere. It should certainly not be a matter where Council bullies Parliament or any other body. If there is any doubt about the right of the public and the press to attend a meeting about their own money inside the independent European Parliament, there is a simple remedy in all the Treaties since 1951. The Parliament can ask the Court of Justice for an opinion on the interpretation of the treaties and validity of acts under article 267 TFEU and elsewhere. Any tribunal throughout the entire EU can do the same.
I would like to know why this has not been done.
The second question relates to Budget meetings where the Council did not play any part. On 29 June 2011, I was also excluded from the Budget meeting of the Parliament and the Commission. Why? The Parliament was considering the Commission’s proposals for the Trillion euro multi-annual financial framework. It is huge money from the public’s pocket. All political parties were represented at the meeting and their reaction was of primary public interest and concern. Article 15 of Lisbon Treaty TFEU states that all matters concerning the consideration of budget and legislation should be open to the public. I spoke to a member of Mr Barroso’s Cabinet who was also present inside the meeting but he was unable to explain to me the reason for the press exclusion from the point of view of the Commission. On his recommendation I am therefore writing to you for an explanation.
In this case, blame for the exclusion cannot be sloughed off on the Council. The Commission says it is the Parliament’s responsibility.
The treaties and the jurisprudence state clearly that openness and consultation are required for legislation. The secrecy, the hidden political reactions and the refusal to consult the public throw in doubt the legality of previous ‘legislation‘ because it is based on unjustly excluding the public presence and refusing proper consultation of the public and taxpayers in particular. Money cannot legally be taken from a taxpayer’s pocket in a manner where the taxpayer is excluded from understanding how an exclusive group who will benefit highly from his money are proposing to seize it, what their first proposals are and the reactions among them. This is especially important when it comes to European matters involving vast sums, massive planning, specifics of revenue collection and taxation and principles of budgetary operations. It is all the more illegitimate when exclusion is decided by a coalition of people all holding party membership cards. They all have similar ideological motives. Party membership represents only about 2 percent of the population. The vast majority of electors refused to vote for any of the parties in the elections. The trend of party support is also continually downwards. It is this small but strong and persistent cartel of party members who refused press and public access in the Council and the Parliament. This is unjust.
Non-party political Civil Society and Organized Civil Society has now been excluded from the institutions where they used to be active in the Commission and in the Consultative Committees (which have legal rights about legislation). Tax and budget decisions are now exclusively made by party politicians contrary to the letter and spirit of the treaties. The Commission is also exclusively occupied by politically active national politicians whereas the original treaties say they should be independent, not maintain their occupation, paid or not, nor take instructions from any organisation or government. The result is that legislation lacks democratic legitimacy.
I am therefore asking you to also reply to the following:
1. The EP should make access for the public and the press permanently available via a physical presence inside the committee room and also for others via the internet and radio and television links.
2. It should ask the Court of Justice to review the legality of the previous acts where the budget discussions were held in secret, contrary to public interest and the Lisbon Treaty and other treaties. Public consultation, debate and democratic openness are legal requirements. The longer it is before this review is made, the more serious the outcome could be. A local or national court or tribunal in the EU will eventually ask according to article 267 for a European Court judgement, opinion or ruling determining the legitimacy of all such alleged legislation including the budgets under the Lisbon Treaty. The most chaotic outcome should be avoided.
3. The EP should, where possible, hold these same Budget meetings again in public so that they can be considered legal and so the public can be aware of the issues and discussions involved in the Budget and expenditures. The public needs to have an opportunity to object to any secret deals among party members and communicate their own opinions to their representatives. After all it is the public’s money that is being discussed. It is not the private funds of the political parties.
4. The Commission, Council and Parliament should review and propose how organized civil society in a properly elected Economic and Social Committee and other such consultative committees with a legal mandate can contribute to the budget proposals. The Founding Fathers intended and the treaties allow that the Consultative Committees should be elected among all registered European associations – as is presently the case in the Council of Europe. Direct elections for the European Parliament under a single mandate were also foreseen and legitimized in the treaties of Paris, 1951 and Rome, 1957 but this took decades to be even partially realized.
Mr President, I look forward to receiving your reply.
Many thanks for your help.
Not having received a reply in the subsequent months, I have now written again asking for a reply.David Heilbron Price
, budget, Consultative Committee, Council of Ministers, democracy, dirty trick, Economic and Social committee, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, hide-and-seek, MAFF, opinion, representation, Schuman, Spaak, supranational, tax, trillion