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How the EU works

by Sven Triloqvist Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 09:52:32 AM EST

This is a down and dirty first attempt at what an interactive map of the EU organization might look like. The idea is the result of a short discussion with Migeru.


The basis of the idea was that your ordinary EU citizen has a very hazy notion of how the EU works. A map can often help people to visualize complex subjects - and we know they are not going to read Treaties.

I tested some facts out on a bunch of generally intelligent Finnish dinner guests last night - all business people in different sized companies, with one military guy. It was clear from the answers to my questions that they knew even less than I do. Even such simple questions as 'How many countries are there in the EU?', or 'How many MEPs does Finland have?' or 'Which country has the most MEPs?', met with embarrassed silence.

So there is work to be done.

I started out by showing the number of countries, their names and how many MEPs they have, and the main institutions. The map above is just a preliminary sketch of that. But it will be hard to incorporate very much more information without visual overload.

The idea forming in my mind is that, as a service to Europe, we could build an ET sister website that contained an interactive 'map'. The base map would be very simple, but different items would be clickable buttons that produced pop-ups with more information. So for instance, clicking on a country box would show the vital statistics of that country. Clicking on 'The Commission' would produce the vital statistics of that body and so on.

And, as Migu pointed out, we need to show the relationships between the components: eg that the Parliament consults on the President of the Commission, gives approval of the full Commission and can censure the Commission.

It is complex.  It won't be easy. But IMO very worthwhile if it helps ordinary citizens to understand how the EU works. And we have all the skills here at ET to create it. So it is over to you. Let me know what you think.

There are mistakes in the map above. Denmark eg has only 14, not 24 MEPs. But I am putting this up in its raw state because I'd like some input before working on it further.

The information I have used comes from this site, which was the most succinct description of EU institutions that I could find.

Display:
If you put the number of MEPs, and label them as such, in the countries' box it will unclutter the diagram.

To the ignorant - like me - the various bubbles in the middle appear to be autonomous entities.  For example,  the Agricultural Guidance & Guarantee Fund appears to be off in its own little world, reporting to no one, accountable to no one.  

Might consider the order in which the entities are placed.  In general people look Top/Down and cognize the hierarchy of importance/power in the order the eye sees.  The diagram communicates the Council of States is more important/powerful than the Elected Parliament, which may very well be true but isn't something you want to emphasize.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 11:43:45 AM EST
Yes, a solution to all this must be found. My first instinct was to put the parliament at the top, ans the segregation of bodies doesn't indicate the flow of connections between them. I was working from the Institutions site - but it may well make more sense to see the whole flow from the point of view of the citizen rather than the EU official view.

All comments and criticisms welcome - this was just a 90 minute doodle. With several days of work it can be made more efficient and, I hope, beautiful. But I'm interested to see whether people think the general concept of attempting the map to be useful or not

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 12:08:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... and the Parliament kind of like they are, but instead of the "to be named later" boxes, swing the gap around to  the middle of the bottom row, and have the arrows with the relationship of the Parliament going out to the other bodies, organized in an area below the "states and parliament" box above.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A how can I interact, who can I complain to view could be useful too

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:40:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Important point, and one that may be a 'selling' point. Our aim is not to 'toe the party line', but get ordinary citizens involved - because official EU communications have totally failed in that.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably add how does EU money fund things for me view as well, we all get to see "EU funded" signs, but there are other ways that EU money effects the average citizen that aren't so obvious. The EU needs seeing as an opportunity, not in the Murdoch view as an obstacle.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:58:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is another "flow chart" with arrows: follow the money.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two "weights" that each country has: MEPs and voting weight in the Council (for the purposes of qualified majority). So I'd put the council votes and the population inside the country box, and the number of MEPs in the arrow. I would also put all the countries on one side of the diagram, in one line, and the EP the nearest "blob" to this row so as to prevent the lines from being overlaid by other blobs.

You can put the three main institutions as the vertices of one triangle, and the ECB in the centre.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some ideas : clicking on Commission shows small portraits of commissioners from each countries on the lines from country to commission, with role showing ; clicking on council shows portraits of heads of states, maybe with qualified voting weight showing. Clicking on said portraits opens a largish box with small bios, policies advocated... Whereas clicking on the numbers showing the numbers of MEP from each country opens a box with a list of MEPs ordered by EP group...

Clicking on the various independent bodies shows links of nomination and oversight from various EU bodies, with a link to the country when the body is seated and others to the countries where main leaders of the body come from, again with small bios possible to find ? Clicking again on the EU body would open a box with description of role, history, debates about it, maybe ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 12:23:43 PM EST
Good ideas. I like the idea of photographs and bios (wikipedia links?)

Clicking on the funds, for instance, would show where the money comes from and where it goes.

I'd also like to know what should constitute the vital statistics of a country: population, No. of registered voters, % of votes at EU elections, land area, GDP, EU contributions, EU receipts etc. Any suggestions?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 12:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Take a look at the effort of the Sunlight Foundation in the US. This is certainly more than you have in mind, but might provide some ideas to those who are discussing expanding the scope of your effort.

As for improved visual aids you can try this demo of one of their technical efforts:
http://sunlightlabs.com/popuppoliticians/

Roll your mouse over the little sun icons to see how it works. Since it is Ajax code one could adapt it for use elsewhere. Where the underlying database would come from is another issue.

Here's a link to the javascript if you want to study the technical details.

http://sunlightlabs.com/widgets/sunlightlinks_autopop.js

 

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 01:16:39 PM EST
This is very interesting solution, thanks.

I guess that deep in the bowels of the EU bureaucracy, such an underlying database might exist.

Frank S mentioned in passing that it might be possible to get EU funding to build anything that would help the EU be understood (I paraphrase as I don't recall exactly what Frank said).


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 01:32:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we should first start to list the information we'd like to provide, and then decide how to show it. Do we want it to be more about the mechanisms of the UE or more about the people ?

Oh, and if you need a coder I would volunteer...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:13:34 PM EST
When confronted with a mass of information, my first reaction is to doodle connections on paper rather than make lists. But that's just my way of sculpting information (ie carving down from the block, rather than building up on an armature). All methods are valid ;-)

My own preference is for a diagram that will help citizens understand the dynamics of decision-making/power/funding/control. Within that structure are people and countries that should be profiled.

And great that you volunteer! Let's see who joins in and see if we can put a group together to work on this. I'm busy tomorrow, but the rest of the week leading up to Midsummer is very easy for me, so I can put some time in myself.

The EU website I mentioned has a lot of the information we need, I need to go through it and extract the salient stuff.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 02:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that each state feeds into all three institutions: a number of MEPs, representation in the council and one Commissioner, you might want to rearrange the graph.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:48:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would test the following:
  • loose the lines (as it soon would get cluttered anyway)
  • Put bubbles (like the present light green MEP bubble) at each country representing number of Commissioners, numbers of votes in the Council and number of MEPs (or the different order)
  • colorcode each institution and its bubbles (so if MEP bubbles reamin light green, make EP lightgreen)


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's go the other way : since this is to be an interactive map, put only one or two relevant info on each page. No showing simultaneously number of MEPs and votes in Council. Which allows to keep the line (and maybe make their width proportional to voting weight)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 08:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking that each subdivision of a treaty could be translated into a separate graph - normally the treaties are organised topically. For instance, the Treaty on the European Community has parts, titles, chapters, sections, articles, paragraphs and subparagraphs. Regarding the institutions (part 5) what you want seems to be a breakdown at _chapter_ level (since the individual institutions are _sections_ within _chapter 1_ and you want to show them all in the same diagram).
Part five -- Institutions of the Community
   TITLE I -- Provisions governing the institutions
      Chapter 1 -- The institutions 
	 Section 1 -- The European Parliament (arts 189-201)
	 Section 2 -- The Council (arts 202-210)
	 Section 3 -- The Commission (arts 211-219)
	 Section 4 -- The Court of Justice (arts 220-245)
	 Section 5 -- The Court of Auditors (arts 246-248)
      Chapter 2 -- Provisions common to several institutions
      Chapter 3 -- The Economic and Social Committee   
      Chapter 4 -- The Committee of the Regions
      Chapter 5 -- The European Investment Bank
So, for instance, you can probably get away with representing Chapter 1 in a single sheet, with each "section" being a region and each article an annotation (possibly an arrow, possibly a bullet point).

BTW, I'm mystified about the difference between "council of ministers" and "council of states" in your diary's graph.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 03:44:45 PM EST
The European Council is made up of heads of states and meets twice a year to discuss broad future.

The Cpuncil of the EU is made up of ministers of the states and focuses on issues.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 04:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

The Council of the EU is the same thing as the European Council and it meets in a veriety of "configurations" depending on the issues. One of the "configurations" is the "heads of state or government". That is the only one chaired by the Council President (head of state/government of the presiding nation). The "general affairs" configuration is chaired by the Foreign Minister of the presiding nation.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 04:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and the council meets four times a year and includes all configurations, though the press only cover the "family photo" at the heads' "summit which lasts two days.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 04:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not according to the EU website

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 05:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I'll have to see whether the Treaties and the EU Council pages contradict the pages of the EU delegation to Japan.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Consilium.Europa.EU: The Council of the European Union
The Council is the main decision-making body of the European Union

The ministers of the Member States meet within the Council of the European Union. Depending on the issue on the agenda, each country will be represented by the minister responsible for that subject (foreign affairs, finance, social affairs, transport, agriculture, etc.).

The presidency of the Council is held for six months by each Member State on a rotational basis.

Council Configurations
Each Member State participates in preparing the work of the Council and in its decision-making

The Council is made up of the ministers of the Member States. It meets in nine different configurations depending on the subjects under discussion. For example, the "General Affairs and External Relations" configuration is made up of foreign affairs ministers, the "Justice and Home Affairs" configuration of justice and home affairs ministers, etc.

All the work of the Council is prepared or co-ordinated by the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), made up of the permanent representatives of the Member States working in Brussels and their assistants. The work of this Committee is itself prepared by some 250 committees and working groups consisting of delegates from the Member States.

...

The Council
General Affairs and External Relations
Economic and Financial Affairs
Cooperation in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Competitiveness
Transport, Telecommunications and Energy
Agriculture and Fisheries
Environment
Education, Youth and Culture

The list includes "the council" as well as the "nine configurations" for a total of 10. The COREPER is the heart of the Council and it's not one of the 10 listed.

The Council

... However, there remains a single Council in that, regardless of the Council configuration that adopts a decision, that decision is always a Council decision and no mention is made of the configuration. The Council's seat is in Brussels, where it meets several times a month (meetings are held in Luxembourg in April, June and October).
Council decisions are prepared by a structure of some 250 working parties and committees comprising delegates from the Member States. They resolve technical issues and forward the dossier to the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), made up of the Member States' ambassadors to the European Union, which ensures consistency in the work and resolves technical-political questions before submitting the dossier to the Council.

The Council takes decisions by a vote of Ministers from the Member States.

European Council
The European Council brings together the heads of state or government of the European Union and the president of the Commission. It defines the general political guidelines of the European Union

The decisions taken at the European Council meetings represent a major impetus in defining the general political guidelines of the European Union.

The meetings of the European Council usually take place in Brussels, in the Justus Lipsius building.

According to Wikipedia:
The European Council isn't an official institution of the EU, although it is mentioned in the treaties as a body which "shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development". Essentially it defines the EU's policy agenda and has thus been considered to be the motor of European integration. It does this without any formal powers, only the influence it has being composed of national leaders. Beyond the need to provide "impetus", the Council has developed further roles; to "settle issues outstanding from discussions at a lower level", to lead in foreign policy - acting externally as a "collective Head of State", "formal ratification of important documents" and "involvement in the negotiation of the treaty changes".

Because it's composed of national leaders, the body brings together the executive power of the member states, having a great deal of influence outside the European Community: for example over foreign policy and police & justice. It also exercises the more executive powers of the Council of the European Union (the European Council could be described as a configuration of that body) such as the appointment of the President of the European Commission. Hence with powers over the supranational executive of the EU, in addition to its other powers, the European Council has been described by some as the Union's "supreme political authority".

However, the body has been criticised by some for a lack of leadership, in part stemming from the weak structure of the body, meeting only 4 times a year for 2 days with no staff and no legislative decisions made.

(my emphasis)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See also the European Commission's Glossary:
The Council of the European Union ("Council of Ministers" or "Council") is the Union's main decision-making body. Its meetings are attended by Member State ministers, and it is thus the institution which represents the Member States. The Council's headquarters are in Brussels, but some of its meetings are held in Luxembourg. Sessions of the Council are convened by the Presidency, which sets the agenda.

The Council meets in different configurations (nine in all), bringing together the competent Member State ministers: General Affairs and External Relations; Economic and Financial Affairs; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs; Competitiveness; Cooperation in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA); Transport, Telecommunications and Energy; Agriculture and Fisheries; Environment; Education, Youth and Culture.

Each country of the European Union presides over the Council for six months, by rotation. Since January 2007 a new system for holding the Council Presidency has been in force. For each 18-month period, the three Presidencies which will be in office during that time prepare a draft common programme.

The Permanent Representatives Committee or "Coreper" (Article 207 of the Treaty establishing the European Community) is responsible for preparing the work of the Council of the European Union. It consists of the Member States' ambassadors to the European Union ("Permanent Representatives") and is chaired by the Member State which holds the Council Presidency.

Coreper occupies a pivotal position in the Community decision-making system, in which it is both a forum for dialogue (among the Permanent Representatives and between them and their respective national capitals) and a means of political control (guidance and supervision of the work of the expert groups).

It thus carries out preliminary scrutiny of the dossiers on the Council agenda (proposals and drafts for acts tabled by the Commission). It seeks to reach agreement at its own level on each dossier, failing which it may suggest guidelines, options or suggested solutions to the Council.

The European Council is the term used to describe the regular meetings of the Heads of State or Government of the European Union Member States. Its role is to provide the European Union with the necessary impetus for its development and to define the general political guidelines (Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union). It does not enact legislation and is not an institution.

It meets at least twice per year (in practice, twice per presidency) and the President of the European Commission attends as a full member. An extraordinary meeting can be held whenever necessary. It is chaired by the Member State holding the six-month presidency of the Union. Decisions are taken by consensus following negotiation between the Member States, which begins before the summit. The outcome of the European Council deliberations is recorded in the conclusions published at the end of the meeting.

The European Council was set up by the communiqué issued at the close of the December 1974 Paris Summit and first met in 1975. Before that time, from 1961 to 1974, the practice had been to hold European summit conferences. The Single European Act (1986) gave a legal basis to its existence and the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht, 1992) specified its functions.

(my emphasis)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:50:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For good measure, let's quote the single article of the Treaty on European Union which describes the European Council.
Article 4

The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall
define the general political guidelines thereof.

The European Council shall bring together the Heads of State or Government of the Member States and
the President of the Commission. They shall be assisted by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the
Member States and by a Member of the Commission. The European Council shall meet at least twice a
year, under the chairmanship of the Head of State or Government of the Member State which holds the
Presidency of the Council.

The European Council shall submit to the European Parliament a report after each of its meetings and a
yearly written report on the progress achieved by the Union.




When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the "composition of heads of state or government" does exist in the Treaties. For instance:
Treaty on European Union

Article 7

2. The Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government and acting by
unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining
the assent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by
a Member State of principles mentioned in Article 6(1), after inviting the government of the Member
State in question to submit its observations.




When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 06:57:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is also mentioned in the Treaty on the European Community
Article 121

2. On the basis of these reports, the Council, acting by a qualified majority on a recommendation
from the Commission, shall assess:
-- for each Member State, whether it fulfils the necessary conditions for the adoption of a single
currency;
-- whether a majority of the Member States fulfils the necessary conditions for the adoption of a
single currency,
and recommend its findings to the Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or
Government. The European Parliament shall be consulted and forward its opinion to the Council, meeting
in the composition of the Heads of State or Government.

Also when appointing the board of the ECB (Article 112), the European Monetary Institute (Article 117), transitional steps of the Economic and Monetary Union (Articles 121-122) and the nomination of the President of the Commission (Article 214).


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 07:03:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the conclusion is? ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:03:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "European Council" is only an EU Institution when it is a "configuration" of the "Council of the European Union". Otherwise it's just for the Heads to feel important and for the press to have someone to photograph. There is only one Council.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good!

Tomorrow I will start with an analysis of the EU components in preparation for a more detailed discussion. I'll have to work with the official EU view first - but, as you have revealed, we have to go behind the photo-ops to discover the real structure as it affects citizens.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't get "the official EU view" from the EU delegation to Japan. Get it from the Commission's Europa.eu site, and their glossary.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this true according to the Nizza and Lisbon Treaties, too? I have to check, but I seem to recall that the difference did count when it came to the definition of "Presidency of the Council" vs. "President of the European Council".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 04:17:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All I have quoted is from the consolidated treaties pre-Lisbon.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 04:54:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm browsing it right now. There's this:

The Treaty on European Union shall be amended in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

...

9. Article 40 shall be replaced by the following Articles 40, 40a and 40b:

...

Article 40a

1.
Member States which intend to establish enhanced cooperation between themselves under Article 40 shall address a request to the Commission, which may submit a proposal to the Council to that effect. In the event of the Commission not submitting a proposal, it shall inform the Member States concerned of the reasons for not doing so. Those Member States may then submit an initiative to the Council designed to obtain authorisation for the enhanced cooperation concerned.

2.
The authorisation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be granted, in compliance with Articles 43 to 45, by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, on a proposal from the Commission or on the initiative of at least eight Member States, and after consulting the European Parliament. The votes of the members of the Council shall be weighted in accordance with Article 205(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community.

A member of the Council may request that the matter be referred to the European Council. After that matter has been raised before the European Council, the Council may act in accordance with the first subparagraph of this paragraph.

Here European Council and Council seem to bee treated as separate entities.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 05:32:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.

Which is rather bizarre since the Government is under the authority of the Head of Government.

Does the Lisbon Treaty retain the "configuration of Heads of State or Government"?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 06:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nominally, ministers are NOT under the authority of a PM, and things get even more interesting if there is a cohabitation between a President and a government in a country. At any rate, I take this provision to mean that whoever wants to make such a request, it has to be the Council of the bosses that gives the approval.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:09:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The German Chancellor might take any question and decide it in lieu of the minister (Richtlinienkompetenz, Art. 65 Satz 1 GG). Whether he effectively can is, of course, another question.  

Generally speaking, collegiality seems to be on the retreat, except in Switzerland. E.g., the weight of the numerous British ministers seems to be rather light, and decreasing. And, last but not least, the US gouvernment is really monocratic, and has, for all intents and purposes, no ministers at all.

Nobody cares for the [quality of the] administration any more.

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 06:27:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want an official consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty, it's here.

For instance

Article 10

  1. The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy.
  2. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament. Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments, themselves democratically accountable either to their national Parliaments, or to their citizens.
  3. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.
  4. Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.
I like paragraph 4 - wishful thinking on the "forming political awareness", since the Media call the shots.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 06:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for the consolidated versions after the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council and the Council are clearly separated. Definition is in  the Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, Title II, Article 10:

2. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.

Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments, themselves democratically accountable either to their national Parliaments, or to their citizens.

Consolidated version of the Treaty on The Functioning of The European Union, Part Six (Institutional Provisions), Title I, Chapter 1 has separate Sections 2 and 3 for the European Council and the Council.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 06:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, so the EU has been getting ahead of itself in updating its information pages (there is a notice in the Glossary about updating to reflect the Lisbon Treaty, too).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 06:11:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The distinction between the COREPER and the Council is customary and protocolary in the first place, ministers being more dignified. Cf. the diplomatic practice at international conferences, to end with a minister's conference.

Thus, if the COREPER accepts a measure it gets on the »A« list and is summarily agreed to by the Council.

One may compare the German Federal Council (Bundesrat, Art. 50—53 GG): only ministers (i.e. members of the regional gouvernment (Landesregierung) may vote; votes are weighted and cannot be split, and the regional chief ministers (Ministerpräsidenten) meet from time to time outside of the council.

Could they vote on bills on this occasion? No, because the Federal Council needs to be convened in due form.

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 07:16:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET!

Bah, humbug :-)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 01:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the idea.

Some questions:

  1. Who's the audience?
  2. How will they find the information?
  3. Could we use this as a calling card for other media and/or consultancy work?
  4. Could the EU be sold on using this as a central tool for accessing summaries of voting records, policy decisions, etc?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 15th, 2008 at 05:32:24 PM EST
  1. Everyone who votes an ignorant NO to the Treaty. Everyone who is positive to European ideals, but doesn't understand how it works. Educationalists and school kids. It has to be user-friendly, with mind-numbing detail severely restricted. I'd also so it should be entertaining (or appear entertaining) as far as possible.

  2. As always, the best question.  Depends how it develops. I think it is worth doing for the restricted audience of ET (in English). But if we make it open source, or at least non-copyrighted, others may wish to rebuild it in other languages. The web structure should be built with that translation in mind. We can also ensure the best use of keywords so that it turns up in searches. We can send out a MSM press release at launch.

  3. Yes. Even if open sourced and non-copyrighted it should be ET-branded.

  4. EU funding is a possibility, but the process is long-winded. Getting it made official would probably take even longer - several years perhaps. Either way we have to do all the work to get the money, so why not just do it? However if we pool our contacts there might be some altruistic money out there.

Certainly to do it well is going to take a lot of person-hours. And, in this case, running it as a proper project( a la Frank S advice) is probably necessary. Linca has volunteered as coder. What other skills do we need? Research, system analysis, design, copywriting, coordination, etc etc?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'l volunteer research...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 03:42:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I propose one major change, which I consider important. Instead of just having country boxes connected to EU institutions, there should be country boxes with "ears" representing governments. Then, two sets of different-coloured, but light shaded arrows should point to the Parliament resp. the Council. So that people understand that the Council represents the governments, the EP the people.

Speaking of the Council, the "Council of States" (which may  be better called "Council of Ministers") should be below the "Council of Heads", and the two should be twinned.

It may also be better if the Commission (to which we could 'twin' a "Directorates" bubble, the same way the "Council of States") is placed sideways of the Council, because while it is de-facto less important than the Council, it is (1) the de-facto government of the EU, (2) it is further removed from the countries.

As for the various lesser funds and bodies (of which the EZB is a major omission), maybe that could be worth a separate graph, rather than cluttering up this one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 04:10:33 AM EST
I think we're putting the cart before the horses. First we have to define what information we want to represent and then work on the best visual representation.

For instance, let's just say that we want a "who nominates/appoints/elects whom" graph.  Then the first thing you do is research and list all the *A {does B to} C" that we want to chart. And then we arrange the A's and C's so that the B arrows connecting them are a  uncluttered as possible. And then we can add additional labels for voting weights, qualified majority vs. unanimity, etc. And there is a time dimension as well in that certain thing happen in sequence.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 04:44:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colour coding can also be used to connect physically separate parts of the diagram. Or connecting lines only appear when a country is <rolled over>.

There are many ways to do it. The most important factor imo is presenting  informatively and interestingly, for an audience with a short attention span. It also has to be correct, as we see it (not necessarily what the EU wants to say about itself officially.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:30:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am focusing on processes and the natural representation of processes as arrow diagrams.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:36:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's fine. Whatever is more practical for those involved in the research.

A text-based analysis will be a lot easier to discuss here at ET.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All wrong, Sven: There should be a strike through "UK" and "US" next to it. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 08:04:00 AM EST
Don't forget Ireland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 08:07:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why those three?  Are they our poodles now, too?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 08:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland will follow where the UK goes. For CZ, think Vaclav Klaus; and Slovenia seems to take its marching orders from the US State Department.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:02:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come 'round here and say that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:10:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You won't go to Schengen because the UK won't. And your press is controlled by Murdoch, too!

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:12:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't, not won't. Can't put passport controls on border with NI.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 09:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Slovenia only differs from 70% of the EU by a local newspaper having made public that circumstance. Last I heard, most of the EU went along in the orchestrated independence declaration and recognition of Kosovo.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe traitorous Spain still hasn't recognised Kosovo. Along with Romania, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leaving 74% of the EU-27. I wrote 70% :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:24:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about votes in the Council and population? (Thinking Qualified Majority rules here)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 16th, 2008 at 10:37:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. I actually said differs from 70% of the EU, so I was even more precise on country basis (19/27 = 70.37%). At any rate, majority above the required 67%...

  2. Under Nice, the seven opponents have 79 votes out of 345, giving a 77.1% majority to the Kosovo recognisers, above the 74% limit.

  3. Population:  seven opponents have a combined population of 95.25 million out of 497.48 million, giving a 80.85% majority, well above the required 62%.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 03:09:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks like just one more refusenik with 10 Council votes would have been enough to make a blocking minority on two criteria (number of member states and numebr of votes).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 03:31:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be a short hiatus while I continue my basic research. Migu, are you still in?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:11:10 AM EST
Do you want to continue by e-mail?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:13:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't we put up a second diary in x days (I could be ready by the weekend - but you name your time, as long as you need).

The dairy would suggest a basic way of looking at the EU structure so that different 'flows' could be overlaid upon it. ie a Template. Ideally it would be a template that could accommodate all kinds of overlaid information in the future. I don't even know if this is possible - in a way that would be interesting for the audience that I suggested.

If we come up with a workable plan/s, perhaps we could have an 'occasional series' status - since I believe that this idea is so ET fundamental that there will be (rightly) a lot of discussion of detail. It is not something imo that will be ready in a couple of weeks - it will be ongoing. I may be wrong.

By all means let's email. You and I have volunteered to do some work on the basics - and I bow to your analytic mind - but let us also make sure that everyone who has a mind to contribute, can do so. I don't think any one of us has all the answers, but together maybe?  ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 12:12:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want to do Lisbon or Nice?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 02:33:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The template I am reaching for would accommodate both, and future enlargement.

It should also be possible. for example, to visually indicate, in overlay, basic geography, language groupings, political groupings (updatable), etc. So, I say again, we need a simple means of depicting the institutional relationships, on which can be overlaid different ways of looking at the 'flow' between those relationships.

That means, for example, that a visitor could click EFTA, Lisbon or Nice, or whatever and see who is/was involved and how. Or they could click <energy> and <windpower> and see the installed KWh in various countries. Or they could click <CAP> and see the amounts each state receives. Or whatever. If we can design a basic engine like Google Maps then we can leave others to add these functionalities.

Our ET gift to the citizens of the EU would be to provide this engine.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 02:53:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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