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MEUM Mercury 2013
European Union Mainz Daily News of Model European Union Mainz 2013
Issue No 03/13
Saturday, 6. July 2013
FRUITFUL DISCUSSION GOES BANANAS AS PARLIAMENT CLASHES OVER AMENDMENTS his very own faction was supporting; and the staunch refusal by other party members to comment on the internal situation of the EPP is very likely to be telling.
The European Parliament debated and voted on amendments to the temporary workers directive yesterday morning, laying bare divisions between the parties that brought the Parliament into deadlock. At the end of the voting procedure, a mere four out of eleven amendments were adopted – due to the tight majorities in the Parliament and the factions’ difficulties in forming strong alliances. With the EPP having lost a seat during the first day’s proceedings as a result of Mr Guerbuez’s deflection to the EFD group, the S&D faction may enjoy the privilege of being the strongest faction in parliament, yet even in alliance with their faithful partners from the Greens the two groups are one vote short of a majority – a situation which should come as a blessing to the three MEPs from the ALDE group. However, ALDE members have complained about feeling ignored by the other factions. “They don’t consider us because we are a small faction”, one MEP says who wants
to remain unnamed. “But in the European Parliament you have to hear the opposition as well, and the other factions are being totally inflexible”. This sentiment is reflected from other factions, such as the S&D group, one of whose members described the ALDE MEPs as being “a bit weird”. The veil of silence separating S&D and ALDE, however, was the reason why the Parliament failed to pass more than four
amendments. The numbers being what they are, S&D and the Greens will need support from one more MEP – either by cooperating with ALDE, or by profiting from internal divisions within the EPP group. The centre-right party might project unity to the outside, but their internal divisions are becoming apparent: during the debate on amendments yesterday afternoon, EPP MEP Damian Szul (Belgium) spoke against an amendment that
In the end, the drifts between factions forced the parliament into an involuntary grand coalition as the only amendments that passed were the ones on which EPP and S&D could agree. Perhaps the biggest winner in this confusion is the Council, who will not have to deal with particularly ambitious amendments coming from the parliament and will therefore be in a position of greatly influencing the final directive. In the midst of all this fruitless disunion, the EFD group emerges as the most united faction. Faction leader Kalpakchiev yesterday revealed the party’s new motto: “United Against Europe”.
Clearing the first hurdle Yesterday the Returns Directive and its amendments passed the Council of Ministers. We shed light on the process and prospect of the directive. On the second day of its negotiations on the Returns Directive, ministers of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council have agreed on a common version of the proposal. Various groups of Member States had proposed a total number of 12 amendments, out of which three were eventually adopted by the Council. The resulting amended version of the Commission’s original proposal was then passed on the Eu-
ropean Parliament. The Parliament now has time until noon today to discuss the Council’s proposal and to adopt further amendments. Generally speaking, most of the amendments proposed within the Council can be classified into two types: On the one hand, some aimed at extending the rights of irregular migrants by limiting the scope of action for states in removing
them. On the other hand, some proposed amendments had the purpose of extending the scope of action for states to the disadvantage of irregular migrants. The two types of amendments were based on two different rationales: The former were based on human rights considerations, while the latter underlined the limited capacity of certain Member States to take continue on page 3
Impressum Editor in Chief Simon Kruschinski Christopher Niederelz Journalists Anna Kosenkova Joachim Thaler Max Frey Maria Blum Layout Benjamin Doll
- The Mercury . Daily News -
Issue No 03/13 06.07.2013
COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN BETWEEN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL As rapporteurs from the Parliament and the Council met yesterday to discuss each other’s positions on the directives to be debated, the cooperation between the two institutions is looking to be far from smooth. The presentation sessions in which Council and Parliament defended their amendments to each other showed that only the most consensual amendments made it past the mills of democracy in the European Parliament, despite communication between the different rapporteurs being minimal. Meeting for the first time yesterday as amendments were already introduced, it seems that the rapporteurs may have underestimated their role as guarantors of smooth interinstitutional policymaking. Even though the rapporteurs entered their negotiations with optimism, as German Council rapporteur Hosea Saputro Handoyo declared “we are harmonious”, the lack of communication became apparent through Handoyo and his colleague from the Council, Klaudia Stefaniak (France). “They do not seem to know what they want”, Stefaniak and Handoyo
revealed their dissatisfaction with the professionalism of the Parliament’s rapporteurs. Indeed, the faulty communication may not stem from the negotiations between EP and Council rapporteurs, but from the communication between the EP rapporteurs and their fellow MEPs. “They never talk to us nor inform us”, one EPP MEP revealed, who wants to remain unnamed. The EP rapporteurs seem to disagree with this view. When asked whether the rapporteurs were encountering any difficulties in communicating with their fellow MEPs, EFD rapporteur Burak Gürbüz (Slovenia) assured “all is good”. In this light, it might be a blessing in disguise that such a small number of amendments to the temporary workers directive were adopted by the European Parliament, as most ministers in the Council have expressed their satisfaction with the Parliament’s work. Presented with such broad amendments, it should be easy for the two institutions to find a common position. Since this situation was more due to tough
negotiations amongst MEPs rather than communication skills amongst rapporteurs, this might be a one-time lucky strike. We will see if today’s rapporteur meeting sees more communication and cooperation between the rapporteurs and their respective institu-
tions as well as between each other, as demanded by some MEP´s. However, the Council seems to be satisfied with the current situation after all: one minister said that everything works out “as long as we can get our way”.
that the smaller countries don’t really believe in their possibility to make a serious impact on the legislative process, “because many of them have a restrained position in the discussions, and all bigger countries have a detailed concept what they want to accomplish.“ Svenja Pauly, minister of the UK, also presented her position in a statement: “It´s important to include the smaller factions in the process and to listen to them carefully. Because it´s very dangerous to underestimate them”. At this point of negotiations it’s very important that those countries don´t remain silent and try to convince other small countries to exert pressure.
The ministers of Luxembourg and Slovenia also share this opinion. „We only have four votes, so it takes a lot of lobbying and talking to make deals with the big countries”, Simona Gradisek, minister of Slovenia said. “I think there is always a way. If you present it good and if you have some arguments you can make the bigger countries believe in what you are saying“. So in the end size doesn´t matter.
Does size matter? It often seems that both Parliament´s and Council´s members are still „price tagging” each other by the size of their country or faction, the amount of their votes or the power of their economy. But is it a true democratic principle if the decision-making process is working on the basis of some protomorphic principles? Smaller countries like Luxembourg, Slovenia or Latvia, and smaller factions like ALDE or EFD sometimes are more unheard and even taken less serious compared to bigger countries. One example from yesterday´s Parliament session: The only two amendments which ALDE
proposed were rejected. A member of the Greens, who wants to remain unnamed, mentioned that ALDE was acting like a “lone wolf”, which is related to the fact, that ALDE has this special position. Rene Moreira, the Swedish ALDE member, said in an interview that ALDE has a liberal position: “We think that this position is better for both the employees and employers, who have flexibility and a possibility to choose temporary work or regular work.” A rather similar situation of power comparison is happening at the Council, too. Concerning this Laura-Isabell Cornely, minister of Portugal, mentioned
Issue No 03/13 06.07.2013
- The Mercury . Daily News -
Last Minute News VOTING BLUNDER CAUSES UPROAR IN COUNCIL A suspected mistake has caused a previously adopted amendment to Article 12 of the Common Standards directive to be re-voted upon in the Council, and subsequently failed in the second round. Unverified sources claim that the minister of Austria might have contested the initial voting outcome, asking for a re-calibration of vote weighting per country on the grounds that population sizes have changed. As the presidency called for a second vote on said amendment, one Council member is suspected to have
changed his (or her) mind, causing the amendment to fail. The presidency has been criticized in the ensuing tumult for not having noted the result of the first voting round.
NOTE-PASSING SCANDAL IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT A scandal ensued in the course of yesterday’s press conference when representatives of the EFD and S&D factions were confronted with a note that was leaked to the press, allegedly sent from Mr. Ron Fischer (S&D Portugal) to Mr. Burak Gürbüz
(EFD Slovenia), urging him to deflect to the S&D faction, or to sell them his vote. Mr. Fischer, Mr. Gürbüz as well as EFD faction leader Teodor Kalpakchiev (UK) vehemently deny previous knowledge of this note. Mr. Fischer and Mr Kalpakchiev were later interviewed in a special feature (The link to which is now available on Twitter). Mr. Gürbüz was not available for an interview. A picture comparing Mr. Fischer’s and Mr. Kalpakchiev’s handwriting to the original note has been posted on the MEUM Journalists’ Twitter feed as well.
EFD “ALIENATED”, ALDE “FEELING BETTER” During yesterday’s press conference, EFD leader Teodor Kalpakchiev (UK) stated that his faction feels “isolated and alienated” from the other factions, and that his faction was now seeking “new ways of cooperation” with other factions. Conversely, ALDE leader Lukas Spielberger (UK) has stated that after experiencing some degree of isolation in the course of the debate on the temporary workers directive, the ALDE faction now feels “better” about cooperating with other factions.
...continue: Clearing the first hurdle the measures required by those considerations. The fault lines between those two rationales became most visible with regard to the issue of temporary custody. This issue continued to be the most controversial issue on the second day of negotiations in the Council. Under the Commission’s original proposal, the maximum duration of custody is six months. Two groups of countries proposed amendments to change this upper limit – in opposing directions: One group proposed to reduce the maximum duration to three months while leaving the possibility to extend it to six months in exceptional cases. Another group suggested to keep it at six months, with an extraordinary possibility of extending it to twelve months. Given the division of Member States on the issue, none of the two proposals was eventually passed. Not even a compromise amendment was passed: It would have limited the regular maximum duration to three months, while creating an extraordinary option to extend it to nine months. As mentioned above, only three amendments were eventually passed. They all concerned is-
sues which were less controversial. Accordingly, they were passed with very clear majorities by countries covering at least 70% of the European population. The first of them concerns third-country nationals who are staying illegally in the territory of a Member State, but hold a valid residence permit of another Member State. The Commission’s original proposal prohibited states from issuing a return decision, as long as the person returns voluntarily to the state of his or her residence permit. The new amendment provides for stricter rules: Third-country nationals have to return immediately to the country of the residence permit; if they don’t, a return decision is to be issued. However, the minister of Lithuania, who had not supported the amendment, pointed out that this may be problematic: First of all, the term “immediately” is very ambiguous. And secondly, a return decision may imply a return to a country outside the EU – despite the fact that the person in question has a valid residence permit in an EU country. The second adopted amendment concerns third-country
nationals to whom a removal order or a removal decision applies where there is a risk that they may abscond. Under the Commission’s original proposal, it was obligatory for states to keep such persons under temporary custody. The amendment, however, makes it optional for states to do so. This amendment thus potentially benefits irregular migrants while also increasing flexibility for states. The third adopted amendment introduced a new paragraph on burden sharing. It simply points to the existing “framework programme on solidarity and the Management of Migration flows”, which provides funding for measures related to migration management; it does not create any new financial means or open up new sources of funding which would otherwise not have been accessible. Since the paragraph is only of declaratory rather than substantial nature, it was not controversial and was passed by the Council unanimously. The question now is: Will the European Parliament be able to agree on any amendments on issues that proved to be too controversial in the Council? Originally, it had looked as if
the issue of temporary custody would also be the most controversial issue in the Parliament: Earlier during the day, consultations of Council members with various MEPs had already brought to light considerable disagreement within the Parliament. However, statements of MEPs in the press conference at the end of the day indicated that things had moved on: It seems like the Parliament is likely to vote in favour of shortening the maximum duration of the temporary custody ban to three months. It remains to be seen whether the Parliament will stick to this position, and thus give precedence to human rights over state capacity considerations.
Issue No 03/13 06.07.2013
- The Mercury . Daily News -
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