The transition of eastern European countries to the UE

Austrian Ombudsman Board: public relation activities on TV

Austrian Ombudsman Board: public relation activities on TV

An ombudsman has to make public what he considers being an act of maladministration and which improvements should be implemented. Taking into consideration that the Austrian Ombudsman Board is not able to impose legally binding sanctions on authorities and being aware of the fact that it has got no legal remedies at its disposal to enforce its legal opinions one has to realize that the efficiency of the ombudsman board depends on its capability of convincing authorities to follow and respect the recommendations of the board more or less voluntarily. In this context it is the reputation and popularity of the ombudsmen, the public consciousness about their dedication to the protection of civil rights and the significance of their arguments which all together lead to an increase of the acceptance of the board. Besides the consultation days there is a second element characteristic for the Austrian Ombudsman Board and representing a difference with regard to other European ombudsman institutions which has contributed quite a lot to an increasing confidence in our institution: For more than two years we have got again a “window to the public” on television, which we still keep open.

Due to the efforts of the former Federal Chancellor Dr Bruno Kreisky in 1979 a weekly broadcast on TV with members of the Austrian Ombudsman Board and their staff came on the air at prime time . The live broadcast, which always took 22 minutes, was part of the program of the ORF (Austrian Public Broadcasting Corporation) until 1992; it had up to one million spectators and until 1983 there had been even an additional 45 minutes’ broadcast on the radio.

My colleagues and me have made great efforts to establish the broadcast “Volksanwalt – Gleiches Recht für alle” (Ombudsman – justice for everybody), which at present is on the air in the early evening once a week. Every Saturday at 5:45 p.m. 600.000 spectators on the average have got the possibility to watch a confrontation between members of the Austrian Ombudsman Board with officers of public authorities for 35 minutes and can see what the Austrian Ombudsman Board is able to reach and which results it wants to reach. The respectably increased popularity of the ombudsman board has immediately led to an increase concerning the number of complaints against public administration lodged with the board. Since the broadcast has come on the air in January 2002 the number of applications respectively complaints has increased for 64%. Whereas in 2001 there were 9.032 people contacting the board there were 14.851 persons doing so only one year later. Luckily in 2003 the caseload stagnated on the level of the preceding year. The cooperation with the ORF is accepted by the citizens. After all every eighth review proceeding is directly linked to the broadcast of porno gratis.

The positive public response to the launch of the new broadcast in January 2002 implies the chance to attract the attention of spectators and authorities to a fair way of public administration as it is defined by the Austrian Ombudsman Board and hence to foster our approach. It is principally characteristic for democracies, that public administration is accountable for its actions and omissions and that in this context its representatives must be ready to take part in discussions and disputes. These representatives can expect not to be pilloried by the ombudsman or the presenter of a broadcast just only because the claims of a citizen had to be rejected due to binding legal provisions since it is clear that it cannot be the intention to reach arbitrary results by exerting pressure via mass media. This effect cannot only be reached by the public but also merely in the public. In the broadcasting there is public control by the spectators not only with regard to the public administration but also to the ombudsmen themselves. It is also the ombudsmen who have to consider the opinion and criticism of the spectators.

There are also additional other factors which mirror the new general interest in the activities of the Austrian Ombudsman Board. Whereas in 2001 there were no more than 48.000 visits of the homepage of the Austrian Ombudsman Board the number of internet users interested in the information about or consultation days and annual reports on our homepage nearly doubled (95.000 users; 380 visits each working day). The number of applications filed via e-mail also even doubled (1999:203; 2002:4.721; 2003: 8.428). In this context the Austrian Ombudsman Board seems to have the same problems like other institutions which are generally accessible for everybody: In 2002 only 2.493 out of 8.428 e-mails (10 e-mails per day) could be linked to a review procedure; the rest had to be seen as “electronic garbage” (virus, spam, etc.).

Regardless of the appreciation for the “new media” and new means of communication which nowadays have become a part of our every day life, we should not forget all the people who want to articulate their problems and needs via traditional channels of communication. Since 1977 about 67.000 persons have contacted the Austrian Ombudsman Board by telephone. In 2001 the information service of the ombudsman board, that can be contacted daily between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. had to deal with 4.682 telephone calls. In 2002 the number increased to 7.645 calls, which had to be handled in the 250 working days of that year (about 30 calls a day).

In this context the free service line (0800 223 223) of the ombudsman board is of special importance. It guarantees that there is no regional discrimination of people who contact the ombudsman board by telephone. This free service does not only provide an easier access to the ombudsman board but it also clearly mirrors the Austrian Ombudsman Board’s function as a controlling body not only in the field of federal public administration but also with regard to the public administration of 7 federal states and their local communities. In 2003 the service line cost the ombudsman board a total amount of 16.000. The free service line also guarantees that inhabitants of the federal states can contact “their ombudsmen in Vienna” under even better conditions as if they had their headquarters in the respective capital of a federal state.

We consider the interest of the population in the Austrian Ombudsman Board’s activities, which has constantly increased since 2001, being an indicator for confidence in our efforts and a confirmation of our approach concerning the effective implementation of a good and comprehensive service for citizens, which comprises more than only calling for better standards of administration. We cannot change the people, especially the people engaged in politics, with all their faults, but we can try to shape the institutions which form the framework for their activities in a way that selfish interests of political actors can be converted in a way that makes them useful for the welfare of the individual and the community.

Austrian Ombudsman Board: fostering democracy by mediation between citizens and the state

Austrian Ombudsman Board: fostering democracy by mediation between citizens and the state

The spread of the ombudsman idea is based on the conclusion that there is a need of a “new quality of legal protection and remedy” in order to overcome deficiencies and shortcomings as to the efficiency of traditional systems of legal protection and bureaucratic obstacles, which exist in the context of these systems. In about 125 member states of the United Nations there are ombudsmen respectively similar institutions. So in more than two thirds of the UN-member states we can find such controlling bodies.

The Austrian Ombudsman Board being a child of a state dominated by political parties and being born under specific parliamentary conditions has gradually become a sort of institution for the protection of citizens’ rights with especially Austrian characteristics in the course of the past 26 years of its existence whereas younger ombudsman institutions in Central and Eastern Europe have been created as institutions for the protection of civil rights respectively fundamental human rights right from the beginning on and hence had the function of an engine generating the development of civil society .

In Austria there is no other institution of the state which provides services that could be consumed by any citizen as easily as those of the Austrian Ombudsman Board since no formalities or fees have to be considered when filing a complaint with the board or asking for help. But it is also these citizens that do actually influence the ombudsman’s work. Primarily it is the complaints and stories about grievances in public administration told by citizens concerned by maladministration who make the ombudsman and his staff take measures. It is the citizens who articulate which requirements must be met by the state and a good public administration, which effects are implied by certain administrative measures and it is also these citizens who want to know whether certain administrative measures and decisions are in compliance with the law and hence have to be accepted or not. But there are also citizens who contact the ombudsman without being affected by acts of maladministration just in order to draw the attention to certain general grievances and shortcomings; in this context the ombudsman will be free to start an ex officio review procedure. The Austrian Ombudsman Board as well as every parliamentary ombudsman has got the function of an institution that has to be accessible easily for everybody who is subject to the law and has to confront public administration with alleged grievances to uncover acts of maladministration in a constructive way in order to pave the way for a process of consideration and improvements in the future or has to confirm correct administrative decisions. The ombudsman both has to act as somebody who provides help and assistance to the individual and as a supreme body of the state drawing conclusions from intentional acts of maladministration or errors of public officers, which may lead to new general guidelines for public authorities. With respect to his experience in the context with the application of legal provisions in force the ombudsman has also got to give impulses for amendments and alternative legislative solutions.

According to the opinion of the European Council ombudsman institutions as such are an important part of “bonne gouvernance” respectively “good governance” . So in easy speech one could say that the ombudsman has to guarantee that the law does not only come from the people as the real sovereign of a state but that the law does also come back to the people again. In this context the ombudsman board has been entrusted with the function of an institutional link between the citizens and the state.
Consultation days of the ombudsmen in the capitals of the federal states, at local authorities and in local communities

There has always been some controversy in parliament, in the mass media and in jurisprudence concerning the organization of the Austrian ombudsman institution as a board consisting of three incumbents who decide on their allocation of business and standing orders; also the Austrian Convent (Österreich-Konvent), which is working on a general revision of the Austrian constitution, will deal with this issue . My colleagues and me hold the view that the “board-system” has proved to be very worthwhile. One has to state that this sort of organization offers the opportunity for personal contacts with citizens and for individual care for their legal problems to an extend, which is quite unique when compared to other national ombudsman institutions.

The direct contact and communication with people in the course of consultation days in Vienna and the Austrian Federal States (Bundesländer) demonstrate that the ombudsman board is not a part of anonymous bureaucracy and represent the “unique selling point” of the ombudsman board. Since the Austrian Ombudsman Board is a national ombudsman institution which is obliged to conduct review proceedings in the field of federal public administration and in addition in the field of local administration in seven federal states it has always been the intention of the ombudsman board both to make clear that the headquarters of our institution are in Vienna but that at the same time our scope of competence and activities also comprise the whole federation and the federal states.

It is especially the parliamentary ombudsman who has the mission to support those who are not supposed to have the power to deal successfully with bureaucratic obstacles and maladministration themselves by offering the opportunity for a personal talk. There are a lot of people who really want to discuss their case with an incumbent of the Austrian Ombudsman Board in person and who do not only want to correspond with the ombudsmen in writing. Personal meetings with incumbents of the board in the course of consultation days can be directly arranged by the office of the respective ombudsman; the consultation days as such are announced by local media and on the home page of the board.

Obviously it is easier for people living or working in Vienna to contact the members of the board personally and to arrange a personal meeting with an ombudsman because due to the number of inhabitants of the city and with respect to the fact that the ombudsmen’s headquarters are located in Vienna it is in this town where most of the consultation days are held.. In 2002 there were 263 consultation days, 129 of which were held in the federal states. In 2001 101 consultation days out of 229 were in the federal states. However there were 1.260 consultation days which were organized outside Vienna in the past 11 years offering 17.000 inhabitants of rural areas the opportunity for personal talks about their case and legal matters. When going back to the very beginning of the ombudsman institution in 1977 one will find that there were about 35.000 persons who had met members of the ombudsman board in capitals of the federal states, in provincial towns and bigger villages in the course of consultation days; one could say that is the capacity of a medium sized football stadium of a well known football team.

Considering these figures a single ombudsman, who has not even got an official car at his disposal, would have been obliged to travel through the federal states for a total time of five years in the course of the past 11 years in order to hold the same number of 1.290 consultation days that all together had been held by the three board members during that period. Since actually there is a board of ombudsmen it is quite easier to manage consultation days and to provide a high frequency of personal contacts respectively meetings with an ombudsman. After all there are about 40 consultation days held by each of the members of the ombudsman board in the federal states; so each ombudsman is “on the road” for about two months per year. On first sight that does not seem to be dramatic, but one has to take into consideration that consultation days are often linked to special events and meetings with representatives of authorities or mass media and of course a lot of coordination work with regard to the ombudsman’s agenda concerning his activities in Vienna has to be done.

In the course of consultation days one makes a great variety of experiences, since people often tell the ombudsman about their most private problems because they know very well that the ombudsman will keep all information strictly confidential so that nobody must be afraid of negative consequences; against this background the communication with an ombudsman is quite different from that with aombudsman boardy. A personal talk makes it easier to express one’s feelings, one’s attitude and the whole way of thinking about problems. A letter sent to the ombudsman by a person who hopes that his/her problem will be well understood and handled in the right way generally cannot meet the standards of a personal talk. Even if it is often the little problems and shortcoming of everyday life that are articulated at consultation days it is especially these problems that often make the ombudsman realize what kind of needs and sorrows people do actually have. This confrontation with “real life” makes clear that frequently people are not interested in things like formal legality of public administration or the fact of correctness as to the detailed application of legal provisions in force; they simply want fair decisions of public authorities. They expect that their case is decided in a fair way and that justice is done.

With regard to these expectations of citizens the ombudsman has got the obligation to call public authorities not only to do what they are obliged to do under existing legal provisions but also to consider all options in order to reach a fair and widely acceptable solution in the specific case. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and it may imply quite an effort for the ombudsman himself to get a personal impression of a complainant and his case, and on first sight it might seem to be easier and more efficient to have this work done by members of the staff of the ombudsman board; but actually the personal contact with citizens makes the ombudsman realize that for an ombudsman institution there are special standards for assessing a legal case since the individual and his/her specific problems have to be the most important factor whereas legal considerations as such should not prevail.

The constitution does not oblige public authorities to apply legal provisions restrictively by taking merely the wording of relevant provisions into consideration without considering the special circumstances of an individual case. Such an – widely accepted – approach based on the rule of law as set forth in article 18 of the Austrian Federal Constitutional Act (B-VG) is wrong. It is not only legality which has to be a constitutional standard for the application of law by public authorities but also equity . Moreover the rule of law involves the obligation to consider aspects of equity whenever the law provides some margin of discretion. Especially in the field of social law there are unwritten obligations of providing assistance for citizens asserting legal claims; in this context one has to take recourse to the “obligation of social application of the law” as developed by the courts .

One also has to accept that both in the course of review proceedings of the ombudsman board and on consultation days the ombudsman is often confronted with actual limits of the law. We also have to realize that the construction and institution of legal relationships and legal claims have led to a certain decay of morality and fairness with regard to human relations both in private and public life. In this context public authorities are also partly victims, especially when people try to settle their private conflicts by legal means and remedies and attempt to abuse the legal system for private revenge. If you get to know to all these tragic stories of conflicts between neighbours involving complex legal proceedings that often take several years to come to a final decision you will realize the importance of trying to bring all parties involved together again in order to reach a friendly settlement of a dispute. That however requires the personal engagement of a politically responsible person, who – just like the ombudsman – must also have the function of a mediator.

The position and approach of the ombudsman does at any rate require a clear and consistent attitude towards the legal, political and democratic function of the ombudsman board as well as the consciousness as to the fact that the board’s mission is of high complexity since it implies discretion and options with regard to various aspects. The obligation to call public authorities to grant redress for damages and grievances even beyond the traditional legal protection system and to propose both the authorities and the legislative bodies to implement necessary improvements must be regarded as a mission which can only be carried out by an institution that is capable of demonstrating authority, competence and integrity and whose legitimacy is directly deduced from the citizens and is based on the constitution.

Why have our politicians and the legal profession started harping on endlessly about “democracy and the constitutional state” without even being asked?

Why have our politicians and the legal profession started harping on endlessly about “democracy and the constitutional state” without even being asked?

One explanation might be: to distract attention away from the fact that both of these concepts are nothing more than delusions because of the way in which politicians have gone about their work. Proof? But of course:

What kind of democracy is it when politicians (most of whom belong to the legal profession) come toadying up to the people every four years to receive their “carte blanche” for the next four years, before disappearing again to exercise a form of despotic rule? How else might a system of politics be described in which the politicians barricade themselves away from the people (the interests of whom they are supposed to represent), while at the same time reeling out the same one-way communication rituals (with the cooperation of the media which chronically disregards its duty) – all of which is paid for by the tax payer, also long after the politicians have retired.

What kind of constitutional state is it where people looking for justice have no opportunity to communicate directly in plain language with their “legal judge”, and where, because they have no command of the “legal jargon”, are forced to employ the services of a member of the legal profession, which almost always uses its monopoly position to take advantage of the client (mostly without repercussions)? What kind of a constitutional state is it where the court of ultimate resort does not employ the services of a “jury of common sense” made up of members of the public charged with quashing clearly absurd decisions and handing down heavy financial and custodial sentences to the perpetrators in an attempt to remind them about the job they are supposed to be doing and from whom, according to the constitution, the power of the state is supposed to stem? This includes decisions made by federal courts (as a result of intellectual inbreeding among the legal profession – not to mention other possibilities such as “corruption”).

What right do the legal profession and politicians in the corridors of power have to inflict “death by a thousand cuts” on people’s rights, won over generations through bloody conflict and years of struggle? Do any of these people ever stop to consider the possible consequences of their actions, to take into account the possibility of a violent backlash against them of the too-close-for-comfort variety – when the economy has ground to a halt, when the masses have been shaken from their false sense of security and turned their backs on being used and, as a result, when existence itself has become unbearable for the large majority of the people?

A good example of the way in which things are being broken down piece-by-piece is the continuous efforts of those involved to counter the new technological freedoms of people by using the same technology in the opposite direction. Indeed, the aim is to reel back in these freedoms and, perhaps, to limit them still further. Just a few of these issues would include: monitoring electronic communications, locational monitoring via GSM (in german), GPS/SMS bugs (in german), and RFID. And then there’s all the helicopters in the air that have to be doing more than just monitoring the traffic. In theory, of course, everything is completely above board and legal – but you wouldn’t want to bet your house on it! And then there’s the secret services, which have always operated as a state within a state.

At “winkeladvokat” we had set up a pillory for “shysters” and “judges and executioners”. This site was dedicated to pillorying those members of this profession who had been named and declared “guilty according to our charges of bringing the system into disrepute” by several of their victims.

Our experiences with this online institution have been mixed. For one, we had expected more lawyers and judges to be nominated than has actually been the case. Given that the current system produces a large number of victims, we had expected a large and continual response to the pillory. We believe that the most likely explanation for this contradiction is that the victims (provided they had heard about “winkeladvokat” in the first place) were so frightened that to name their tormentors in public was simply out of the question for fear of being finished off altogether; the other possible explanation is that victims had lost all hope of changing the system (which, incidentally, in a democracy should be a formality) following their ordeal at the hands of these people.

On the other hand, however, both direct and indirect evidence leads us to believe that some of our lawyers and judges have not been too pleased about being put into the pillory. In addition to the predictable “punishment reflex” among the persons concerned *), the pillory might indeed trigger the secondary “reflection reflex” that we so hope to achieve. The so-called reforming forces within the legal system (they are mentioned on a fairly regular basis, even if – judging by their achievements – it’s easy to doubt their existence) could also interpret the anger being expressed by the public on this site as apt and constructive and as a signal for desperately needed changes to the legal system. They could then enter into DIA-logue with the people (MONO-logues from up on their high horse are not required) – whom we would be happy to represent.

But because our faith in the ability of the legal profession to learn has been rather dented (just think about the persistence demonstrated in Germany over decades on the issue of the “legitimacy” of nazi justice and the eventual half-hearted retreat from this dogma), we have decided, for the time being at least, to maintain the pillory as a way of bringing pressure to bear: This way please to the LAWYERS (in german), and this way to the JUDGES (in german). We are also ready to add proven candidates to the list, since it’s only fair “to compare like with like”. If it can be established that the legal profession is making serious and promising efforts to reform itself in a way that is both people-friendly and in line with constitutional principles, we are prepared to consider dismantling the pillory.
*) Please don’t be rash: After all, killing someone can go unpunished and be legitimate – in “self-defence”.

PS: After receiving positive evidence, we recently published a page listing probably good and worthy lawyers (in german), that is, lawyers who have behaved in the right and correct manner.

Poland’s Transition into a New Millenium

Poland’s Transition into a New Millenium

This review is a personal interpretation of the book Poland into the New Millennium, by Blazyca, G. and Rapacki, R.; Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2001.

With over a decade’s experience of transition this edited volume engages with the dynamics of systemic change in Poland. Since 1989 Poland has been frequently regarded as one of the more ‘successful’ transformations with soubriquets such as the ‘soaring Polish eagle’ readily applied. However, Poland into the New Millennium charts a more tentative line than the rhetoric of capitalist triumphalism. The volume discusses three main issues. First, the impact of a decade of transition; many of the contributors have been involved in the process as activists or politicians and not just commentators from the sidelines. Second, the book evaluates where Poland is now, with some dispute between the various chapters. Finally, contributors address the possible future trajectory of transition Poland.

Containing fourteen substantive chapters, the volume is divided into three sections. The first section, Political Economy, Society and Politics, benefits from the inclusion of a chapter by new Finance Minister Marek Belka, indicating where future economic policy might lead in his rejection of virulent neo-liberalism and instead emphasising the necessity for social cohesion. Tadeusz Kowalik’s chapter offers a more circumspect analysis of transition. He gives prominence to the losers rather than the winners of transition, decrying the emergent ‘crony capitalism’ (44). Wnuk-Lipinski offers a longer historical investigation of the changes in Poland, highlighting processes initiated in the 1970s to compare the disjuncture between the ‘social geography’ (67) of support between pre and post 1989 Solidarity. The fourth chapter by Pankow and Gaciarz explores the role of trade unions in contemporary industrial relations. Ironically, in the land of Solidarity they observe that the trade union has become a weakened institution lacking respect from worker and management alike. The final chapter by Aleks Szczerbiak unravels the complexities of the partial consolidation of party politics. His lucid outline of the diverse orientations in party politics illustrates the dominant role played by values rather than group interests in forming political identity.

Section two, Economic Performance, Institutional and Sectoral Transformations, commences with Rapacki’s detailed chapter on Polish GDP developments since 1990. This is an excellent collection of the relevant data but one that raises many questions as to the future competitiveness of the Polish economy. Jan Macieja also notes the emergence of crony capitalism but implicates state interference as the source. His solution is even more liberalisation and deregulation. Gorski’s chapter on the financial sector in the 1990s provides a useful survey of changes in banking and the activities of foreign capital. It complements neatly the following chapter on pension reform by Marek Gora. However, both accept the neo-liberal line and provide striking examples of Polish attempts to exceed even the wishes of the IMF for reform. The last two chapters in this section explore regional policy (Gorzelak) and the agricultural sector (Wilkin). Gorzelak assumes that economic Darwinism (228) will overcome the clearly visible regional disparities in income and development. Wilkin’s contribution on agriculture provides a depressing testimony of rural life. Having already lost out in the 1990s from too much shock and not enough therapy, farmers are set to suffer even more with entry to the EU. As if this is not enough, Wilkin also emphasises that the possibilities for reform in the sector are hampered by political inertia.

In the final section, International Dimensions of Poland’s Transformation, George Blazyca gives an account of Poland’s position in the international economy. While the reorientation of international trade from East to West has been successful, his exhaustive survey probes problematic issues like the burgeoning current account deficit, the impact of foreign investment and the quality of the changes since 1989. He concludes on the discouraging note that Poland faces yet more difficult choices between (neo) liberal and interventionist policies to rectify the growing threat of trade imbalance. Orlowski’s chapter concentrates on appraising potential EU accession. Noting the development gap between East and West and the unprecedented nature of the challenge for Poland and the EU, Orlowski offers a credible argument for the return to Europe, coming down squarely in favour of the importance of real convergence with the EU economies. The final chapter by Christopher Bobinski, recounts the ‘Bristol Appeal’ (297) where the seven post-communist prime ministers were asked whether political leaders could work together to achieve EU accession. Through this device Bobinski covers the taxing issues facing Poland into the new millennium. He too strikes a note of caution concerning the EU; warning domestic acceptance of membership is no longer a foregone conclusion (305).

Poland into the New Millennium is a welcome addition to the literature on transition. It is published at a time of great uncertainty in the Polish transformation with possible EU accession in the near future, continued macroeconomic problems of high inflation and a weak current account balance further compounded by escalating unemployment and the demographic effects of ‘Jaruzelski’s revenge’. It is published at an opportune moment just as Poles voted in an election that witnessed the disintegration of Solidarity as a major political force.

As far as the volume’s stated aims are concerned this is mostly an excellent survey of the first decade of systemic transformation, raising interesting questions concerning the pace of reform and the balance between economic growth and social equality. The collection illustrates that while political and economic transition is firmly embedded the quality of these changes remains far from balanced. There is also the worrying spectre that transition might never be complete with Poland (and other transition states) consigned to the European periphery. More ambiguous is the evaluation of Poland’s future. Many of the contributors remain optimistic despite evidence to the contrary.

Edited volumes like this are often betrayed by a lack of coherence and consistency, but this is a criticism that cannot be levelled here. Indeed, it is perhaps the lack of consistency among the various contributors that signals a most profitable line of enquiry. The editors have gathered together an impressive array of transition ‘observer/activists’. This is one of the most interesting facets of this book, featuring a high proportion of those who operate at the interstices of politics, international institution and academia. However, one of the drawbacks of this approach is the pervasive optimism of indigenous contributors. This jars slightly, especially when so many of the chapters expose the shifting sands beneath the ‘success’ of Polish transition. These criticisms aside, for anyone with an interest in transition the intimate familiarity with the process portrayed here is fascinating and for those specifically interested in Poland it is essential reading.

Foreign policy and EU states

Foreign policy and EU states

This is a review of the book The Foreign Policies of European Union Member States Manchester, written by Manners I. and Whitman R.G. and published by Manchester University Press in 2000.

This welcome and commendable volume attempts to construct and apply a framework to analyse the individual foreign policies of the EU member states so as to ascertain whether a comparative study is possible. Do EU member states require their own specific form of Foreign Policy Analysis? And to what extent have these foreign policies been ‘politicised’ or ‘Europeanised’? Have the respective governments been willing and able to retain their own domaine privé in foreign policy? The bulk of the work is divided into three parts, the first comprising the ‘big three’ member states, the next looking at the second tier of states and the third focusing on the so-called post-neutral states. Within this, what is particularly useful in an attempted comparative study is that each chapter follows roughly the same structure, including insights how foreign policy is made in each of these countries and how EU membership has impacted on these processes.

Blunden kicks things off with a look at France that she describes as being a mission state like the United States, with its claim to a global vocation. Given that France on its own now lacks sufficient resources to maintain this global vocation, it has defensively turned to the EU as a power multiplier for national foreign policy; the Mediterranean being one example. Union membership has equally enabled French influence to be augmented in geographic areas where it has traditionally been weak. Conversely, by working through the Union, French leaders can avoid being bogged down by any colonial baggage when they deal with certain parts of the world. Of course, France’s often termed ‘axis’ with Germany is also an important factor and Blunden alludes to certain sacrifices that third parties have had to make in order that this axis be preserved for the sake of European solidarity; namely in the former-Yugoslavia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when national interests are deemed to be at stake, which they were not in Yugoslavia, then European solidarity becomes a secondary consideration; as in Algeria and elsewhere in francophone Africa.

With regard to Britain, Forster observes that the government cannot admit to its domestic audience just how integrated EU foreign policy-making is, with its heavy reliance on qualified majority voting for example. ‘Europe’ is still a highly sensitive issue and governments have to be vigilant, not least with regard to their own back-benchers. Like France, Britain obtains greater leverage via the EU in certain areas like the Middle East or concerning transatlantic trade. However, the constraints of the Common Foreign and Security Council (CFSP), in which Britain has taken a growing leadership role in recent years, have forced the government to considerably trim its unilateral stance. But as with France, unilateralism within the EU is not extinct as a foreign policy option as can be attested by the policy towards Iraq since the mid-1990s. And Forster adds that 27 (now 29) years of Union membership have not led to a new and wholly different European identity for British foreign policy. In addition, Britain and France are the member states the most embedded in alternative, non-CFSP foreign policy networks; more than their EU partners, these two members have foreign policy options.

German foreign policy, much more than that of France and Britain, emphasises, according to Aggestam, the non-military aspects of security and this is where the Union has most to offer in foreign policy terms. Although she concedes that the end of the Cold War has challenged both Germany’s and the EU’s civilian approach to foreign policy. Again in contrast to France and Britain, it is claimed here that unilateralism is not an option for the policymakers in Berlin; the unilateral stance taken with regard to Croatian and Slovenian independence is now regarded by them as an aberration rather than a precedent. German foreign policy remains rooted in multilateral institutionalism. But, Aggestam notes, this is not to say that Germany does not act like other member states in having its own privileged non-EU partners; in this case, notably, Israel, Poland and Russia.

Part Two of this volume looks at what could be termed the second tier foreign policy states within the end and commences with Missiroli’s study of Italy. Here Italy is described as a laggard, particularly with regard to the implementation of EU policy. Its style with regard to the machinations of Brussels is described as reactive. For Missiroli, Italy’s participation in any future EU ‘inner core’ is no longer guaranteed, not least because it is repeatedly impeded by domestic political crisis. He points to the break-up of Yugoslavia as just one instance when Italian influence was marginalised. Added to this can be the loss of its primary role in EU-Mediterranean relations to Spain. But as elsewhere among the member states, the European/EU context has grown in importance, often to the detriment of other relations like, in this case, the transatlantic.

Concerning Spain, as the first of the more recent former-authoritarian countries dealt with in this volume, Kennedy writes ‘the Europeanisation of Spanish policy enabled the government to bring Spanish policy in line with European norms’ (p.108), especially in relation to the Middle East and Western Sahara; although Gibraltar has proved an altogether different case. Kennedy also provides the example of transatlantic relations. In the lead up to Spanish accession to the EU, the strongly anti-American, anti-NATO, Socialist government was persuaded by its future partners that NATO was the only game in town for European security. Hence Kennedy illustrates Spain’s socialisation at the hands of its EU, and NATO, co-members, as demonstrated by Spain’s key role as a base for American bombing raids during the Gulf War. Prime Minister Gonzales justified this as Spain meeting its European obligations.

Coolsaet and Soetendorp’s chapter meanwhile examines Belgium and the Netherlands. To note here is that both countries advocate a supranational Union, although there are differences between the two. Belgium, for example, has been the keener to challenge NATO’s supremacy in European security, although both now consider CFSP as their main point of foreign policy reference. Elsewhere, it should be noted that Magone gives us a chapter on Portugal.

The case of Greece, as put forward in this volume by Kavakas, is particularly interesting. It has a geopolitical situation that is unique among the member states. But here too, Kavakas can point to the Europeanisation of foreign policy, even to policy areas that have not had to adapt to EU membership. Crucially for Greece, Union membership has served to overcome, partially at least, nationalistic tendencies that could, for example, have dragged Greece headlong into a unilateral military engagement in the Balkan crises of the 1990s. Key foreign policy issues have been made national issues and placed above party politics. At the same time, we can point to similarities with the other member states both in terms of gaining increased leverage in some foreign policy issues (Cyprus and Turkey) and being constrained to act in a way its leaders would not normally have chosen in others (the break-up of Yugoslavia). Significantly, Kavakas points to a certain transformation in Greek foreign policy-making in the EU context that perhaps could also be attributed to Britain. Greek representatives are now far more prone to consultation with their counterparts across the Union and are more willing to compromise in search of a common EU position. In addition, without any colonial legacy, Greece’s foreign policy horizons have been broadened by EU membership, to the Baltic region for instance.

The final part of Manners and Whitman’s volume concentrates on the ‘post-neutral’ member states and is launched by Miles’ examination of Sweden and Finland. As members only since 1995, both have exploited CFSP to enhance their EU credentials. This area in particular offered policy opportunities. Perhaps parallels can be drawn here with Spain in particular. But as Miles notes, both sets of policymakers were already strongly socialised to EU practices prior to accession. Post-accession, both have been at the forefront of pushing the Union ever deeper into crisis management activities. Here again though, there are differences between states, with Finland on the whole being the more centrally engaged with EU affairs. But adaptation prior to accession is not unique to Sweden and Finland, it could be observed equally in Austria, put under the spotlight here by Phinnemore. As a result, the transition in foreign policy terms was relatively smooth with the primary issue being the downplaying of the country’s neutral status. Elsewhere, Austria’s foreign policy goals already largely coincided with those of the Union. Crucially however, the cross-party disagreement over possible NATO membership, combined with the realisation that neutrality can no longer be relied upon to provide for the county’s security, has made the EU increasingly attractive to Austrian leaders in terms of forging a new European security community. Finally, it is to Tonra that the task of analysing the last two member states, Denmark and Ireland, falls. Although not identical in their outlook, both greatly value the greater international weight membership brings, and both have adapted successfully to the Union’s more consensual and cooperative foreign policy-making, although both remain conservative when it comes to the further development of CFSP, particularly with regard to any defence component.

Manners and Whitman and their numerous contributors have delivered a stimulating and innovative volume that should prove accessible to students and scholars alike. It is no fault of theirs that the foreign policy has moved on with some momentum since these chapters were written, most noticeably concerning the new European Security and Defence Policy, but also in the realm of conflict prevention and the attempts to make the Union a ‘one-stop shop’ for security. These developments are for current and future analyses. And perhaps it was beyond the scope of this particular project to consider non-EU countries that nevertheless work closely with the Union in foreign policy matters; although ‘space’ could have been created had not all the current EU members been covered. Frustratingly however, there is no real attempt here to systematically deal with external factors whether this be relations with and the impact of the United States (dealt with sporadically) and Russia (even less so) or responses to issues like migration, militant Islam or globalisation to name but three). This apart, the editors conclude with the unsurprising but nevertheless provocative claim that the member states have used the Union as a means to overcome their past, whether this be fascism, colonialism, economic underdevelopment or neutrality.

European People’s Party: mission and activities

Welcome to the website of the European People’s Party, the largest and most dynamic political force of Europe.

The EPP is a family of the political center whose roots run deep in the history and civilization of the European continent. Our vision for Europe is one of mutual respect, of inclusion and of free citizens, encompassing all countries and regions, no matter how diverse is porno – a Europe for all.

The EPP’s pan-European dimension is manifested not only by the 268-strong EPP-ED group of the  European Parliament , the EPP group of the  Committee of Regions , and the EPP members of the European Commission, but also by its EPP representatives in the parliamentary assemblies of the  Council of Europe , NATO, the WEU, and the OSCE.

Based in the heart of the ‘European quarter’ of Brussels, the headquarters of the EPP oversee and co-ordinate the on-ongoing EPP events, and respond to the policy challenges of an evolving Europe.  Apart from the various policy Working Groups and Forums of the EPP, key issues are often tackled at the Political Bureau, the EPP Statutory Summits and EPP Prime Ministers’ Meetings, which are held regularly.

I, therefore, hope that our website will offer everybody the opportunity to become better acquainted with the achievements of the pioneering political force of Europe and its vision for the future.

Working Groups and Forums are integral part of the EPP structure, gathering nearly two hundred politicians and experts on their field from EPP Member parties. Each Working Group member is nominated by the EPP member party or association.

The Working Group works by producing EPP positions, reports and publications and inviting quest speakers and organising conferences. Working Groups report to the EPP Presidency and the EPP Political Bureau.

Meetings take place 3 times a year in Brussels. Often EPP member parties invite the working groups to have their meeting outside of Brussels to gain local knowledge and support EPP member parties in their national campaigning.

Member party representatives sitting in five working groups and three fora elaborate common positions and strategies on a wide range of issues including EU enlargement, judicial policy, security and defence, economic and social policy, agriculture etc.

EPP Forums are platforms strenghtening the EPP relations in various regions xxx: Russian Federation and the other CIS States, South-Easth Europe, and Mediterranean region including Maghreb countries. EPP Forum work is based on annual conferences and various indiviudal projects under EPP umbrella.

Mission of Romania to the European Union

Cooperation within NATO and economic ties among the issues to be tackled by Traian Basescu and George Bush
Bucharest, March 4 /Rompres/ – Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu in an interview with Rompres said the agenda of the nearing meeting between Romanian President Traian Basescu and American President George W. Bush is likely to include the aspects of cooperation within NATO as well as elements of the bilateral ties, including economic aspects.

Czech Republic to offer Romania support for any technical matter of EU accession
Bucharest, March 3 /Rompres/ – Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, currently on a visit to Romania, said during talks on Thursday with Romanian counterpart Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu that his country is ready to render Romania support for integration into the European Union and offer it technical assistance on any matter regarding the European integration process.

Romania will play a fundamental role in the safety of southeast European side of EU, Josep Borrell says
Bucharest, March 1 /Rompres/ – European Parliament (EP) president Josep Borrell says that Romania will play a fundamental role in the safety of the southeast European side of the porno EU due to its geographical location and history.

President Basescu welcomes European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn
Bucharest, February 28 /Rompres/ – President Traian Basescu on Monday welcomed visiting European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace to discuss Romania’s accession to the European Union.

In-depth assessment of European integration process bears out need for national solidarity, says president Traian Basescu
Bucharest, February 26 /Rompres/ – President Traian Basescu thinks necessary that the press stick together in a bid to spell out to the public at large the steps to be taken over the next period as part Romania’s EU integration process.
    
France says Romania’s accession to European Union is extremely important
Bucharest, February 25 /Rompres/ – France deems Romania’s accession to the European Union as an extremely important fact, as by geography, size and history Romania occupies a “neuralgic” point, France’s Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on Friday, in Bucharest, after a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Calin-Popescu Tariceanu.

Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu visits Berlin
Bucharest, February 24 /MFA/ – On February 23-24, Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu payed a visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, at the invitation of Federal Minister Joschka Fischer. The visit is part of the positive and dynamic relationship with Germany, aiming at consolidating the trust and predictibility capital already gathered at bilateral level.

NATO summit in Brussels conveys message of consolidation of Trans-Atlantic relations
Brussels, February 24 /Rompres/ – The NATO summit in Brussels, held on February 22, conveyed a good message, of consolidation of the Trans-Atlantic relations, Permanent Representative of Romania to NATO Ambassador Bogdan Mazuru told Rompres on Thursday.

Romania to provide the support and expertise necessary for Moldova’s EU integration
Bucharest, February 23 (Rompres) – Romania’s strategy as regards the Republic of Moldova is, on the medium-term, the country’s democratisation from a functional viewpoint and on the long-term its integration into the European Union, Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu said on Wednesday, during a lecture he delivered at the National School of Political Studies and Administration (SNSPA), on the relations of Romania and Ukraine after the European Integration.

Foreign direct investment in Romania reaches 4.1 billion euros in 2004
Bucharest, February 23 /Rompres/ – Romania’s Central Bank (BNR) put the total foreign direct investments in Romania in 2004 at 4.1 billion euros, according to a release of the Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments (ARIS). Reporting a 141 percent increase, compared to 2003, and a 105 percent growth as against the initial objectives for 2004, Romania reduced the gap and entered a competition with East European countries, thought as favourite in attracting foreign investors, the ARIS release informs.

Europe will be neither complete nor free until Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Southern Caucasus are anchored in the Euro-Atlantic community, President Basescu says
Brussels, February 22 /Rompres/ – Ukraine’s future is within the democratic community of the European nations and Europe will be neither complete nor free until Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Southern Caucasus are anchored in the Euro-Atlantic community, Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Tuesday, in Brussels, during the NATO-Ukraine Commission that held debates ahead of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council.

Romania and Bulgaria get favourable accession advice from European Commission
Strasbourg, February 22 /Rompres/ – Romania and Bulgaria got a favourable advice for integration into the European Union from the European Commission on Tuesday, following the successful wrap up of entry talks sealed by the European Council held on Dec. 17, 2004 in Brussels and the finalisation of the Accession Treaty in this February.

President Traian Basescu to attend NATO summit in Brussels
Bucharest, February 21 /Rompres/ – Romanian President Traian Basescu left on Monday for Brussels to attend the NATO summit meeting on Tuesday afternoon, occasioned by the European tour of U.S. President George W. Bush, aimed at restoring and consolidating trans-Atlantic ties.
    
Romanian Government approves Pre-accession Economic Programme
Bucharest, February 19 /Rompres/ – The Pre-accession Economic Programme (PEP) recently approved by the Romanian Government spells out in a unitary and correlated manner the economic policies the authorities seek to implement for the fulfilment of the economic criteria related to EU accession as well as for preparing the economy in view of the integration into the single European market.

The Romanian Center for Global Studies – Introduction

Expertise in the field of International relations is highly needed in Romania. We are a group of young Romanian researchers with previous experience in the NGO sector who joined forces to bring their international expertise within the domestic debate on relevant international affairs.

Our research institute is named the “Romanian Centre for Studies on Globalization“.

Guidelines of our Activity
The Romanian Center for Global Studies is a non-profit foundation funded through consultancy, public and private donations, research projects. The organization is non-partisan.
Our goals
Build independent expertise in the field of international relations.
Stimulate debate on international events that are relevant to Romania’s foreign porno, facilitate and improve education in the above-mentioned field.
Bring a professional and dynamic perspective to the specialized NGO sector of Romania, by a team of young experts who have studied in Western Europe and North America.
Bring a needed medium and long-term perspective, taking into account the global context, in the Romania IR research.
Sustain the general efforts to promote democracy and the Euro-Atlantic integration of Romania.
Develop dynamic contacts with similar institutions in the field, both Romanian and from abroad.
Explore and submit to the Romanian authorities possible action-plans, as policy papers.


Research goals
In depth analyses of domestic or international events, with high potential to influence Romania or the region of South-Eastern Europe.
Research and consultanting mainly in European studies, political economy, security studies, Romanian studies and public relations.
Case studies focused of regional cooperation, consensus building or bilateral relations
Political and economic studies touching the current events such as joining the EU or other international economic debates.
Reflection on events with a long-term influence over the region
Research Activity – Euro-Atlantic relations

Research activities, Euro-Atlantic relations

N.A.T.O.
Domestic obstacles to enlargement
The strategic context after 9.11
Dificulties in integrating new members/effects over the new candidates
Civil society and NATO enlargement
Domestic institutional framework in the field of national security

European Union
The future institutional formula of the EU and its redefining concepts
How the Romanian political elite conceives the future of the EU: federalism versus intergovernmentalism
Public debates over the future of the EU: tendencies and streams
The next enlargement round: 2004 – political and economic consequences for Romania
Domestic hold-backs of the Romanian integration process