White Paper on Governance
Romano Prodi, the President of the Commission, officially presented the Commission’s white paper on Governance before the European Parliament during its September Plenary Session.
The document, adopted by the Commission at the end of July, is dissappointing and doesn’t correspond with the “big initiative” promised by Prodi at the beginning of his mandate. Although it does envisage a more systematic dialogue with regional and local government as well as tripartite contracts between the Commission, the Member States and national governments, the power of the Member States remains omnipresent. The White Paper does not seek to effect any modifications in the existing balance between the different levels of government and it does not propose a new bottom up system of governance. Under strong pressure from certain states, the Commission has abandoned its initial ideas about modulating the participation of decentralised bodies in accordance with the powers devolved to them in the different Member States. This idea of taking account of the constitutional set up in the different states (unitary, decentralised, regionalised or federal) had been mentioned in preparatory papers.
Nelly Maes, the EFA’s President, replied to Mr Prodi’s intervention on 4 September in Strasbourg. She left him in no doubt that she was unimpressed!
During the European Parliament’s annual debate on Enlargement in Strasbourg in September, the European Free Alliance took the opportunity to denounce the plight of minorities in a number of the EU Accession States.
The situation of the Hungarian and Roma communities is very difficult in Slovakia. No higher education is available through those languages, and this despite the fact that Hungarian is spoken by 10% of the population. The EFA succeeded in getting the European Parliament to adopt an amendment critical of the Slovakian Parliament’s territorial reform package of July which denies the Hungarian community real representation, by placing them in a minority in each of the 8 new « regions » constituted.
The position is equally bad for the Hungarian minority in Romania. The Silesian population in Poland and the Moravians of the Tzech Republic also have reason to complain about obstacles being placed between them and real recognition.