Friday, March 11, 2005

The Yorkshire Galahad

Alex Harrowell, better known as the Yorkshire Ranter has leapt into the open ground between Commissioner Wallström and her, mostly male and English attackers. Now not being the greatest supporter of the good Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, (Interestingly I just googled Margot, and number 1 is her blog. I wonder if that is justified or paid for?) I was interested to read his latest review of her blog. Well he seems to be a bit put out that he started a meme by describing it as “Martha Stewart Blogging”. I am not so sure. I suspect he is annoyed that uncouth types like Tim Worstall of this parish, have taken it up and popularised it.
To be fair to Mr Harrowell he points out a truism of political blogging
Mind you, anodyne is a general risk factor for blogging politicians; you can't really blog with the same force if the world press are going to hang it round your neck.”
That being said is it not apparent to him that this is a very serious PR stunt, funded effectively and with enormous strategic forethought. Mrs Wallström is no blushing ingénue that requires a dashing young fellow to take up her handkerchief, far from it. She is a highly successful, competent and popular politician who has been chosen for the “Communication role precisely because she can play the soft face of the institutions”.
Again, though I do feel that every one of her personally written, and, no doubt, committee checked effusions needs a thorough fisking for absurdity, that does not excuse the boorishness of some of the sceptic commentators. However he doesn’t seem to have a problem with the spectacle of officials within DG Press (her own manor) dribbling their praise in the comments section.
He also takes Richard North to task, not only for a comment that to my jaundiced eyes seemed a fair point – and yes I have read Alex’s take on the aircraft affair, just I guess I am biased – but he also lays into him for an article written in last month’s The Sprout.
Which is funny because I was meaning to write a piece laying into Mr Harrowell’s article in the Sprout. He complains about two separate sections of eurosceptic doubt concerning the Treaty on the Constitution.
He has the charm to suppose that Article 4 of Protocol 1 acts as some whingers charter and thus as a democratic safeguard. Well I am not sure what sort of greens they live on in Yorkshire but this is what he is talking about;
A six-week period shall elapse between a draft European legislative act being made available to national Parliaments in the official languages of the Union and the date when it is placed on a provisional agenda for the Council for its adoption or for adoption of a position under a legislative procedure. Exceptions shall be possible in cases of urgency, the reasons for which shall be stated in
the act or position of the Council. Save in urgent cases for which due reasons have been given, no agreement may be reached on a draft European legislative act during those six weeks. Save in urgent cases for which due reasons have been given, a ten-day period shall elapse between the placing of a draft European legislative act on the provisional agenda for the Council and the adoption of a position
Now lets take off the breastplate of decency and look at this with the broadsword of reality shall we. A piece of legislation is given to national parliaments in their own language, six weeks later it is offered to the council to agree upon. Well that is if the council have not decided that it is urgent.
In that six weeks 10 days after putting it forward the National parliaments need to have put together a “a reasoned opinion on whether a draft European legislative act complies with the principle of subsidiarity”.
Better in Protocol 2 this is explained
The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, and, where appropriate, the group of Member States, the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank or the European Investment Bank, if the draft legislative act originates from them, shall take account of the reasoned opinions issued by national Parliaments or by a chamber of a national Parliament.
Each national Parliament shall have two votes, shared out on the basis of the national Parliamentary system. In the case of a bicameral Parliamentary system, each of the two chambers shall have one vote.
Where reasoned opinions on a draft European legislative act's non-compliance with the principle of subsidiarity represent at least one third of all the votes allocated to the national Parliaments in accordance with the second paragraph, the draft must be reviewed. This threshold shall be a quarter in the case of a draft European legislative act submitted on the basis of Article III–264 (pdf. p 60) of the Constitution on the area of freedom, security and justice
Essentially Mr Harrowell is arguing that our democracy is safeguarded because if a quarter of all parliaments (and we include the Commons and Lords as one each) in the EU agree to the same issue within 6 weeks then they can ask the Commission to take another look at the legislation. If a third agree on a complaint the Commission “must review” the legislation.
After the review the Commission may, “decide to maintain, amend or withdraw the draft. Reasons must be given for this decision”.
So they can be ignored anyway. Alex, if you defend Margot as effectively as this does the national parliaments she is going to get badly hurt in the Blog wars.

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