March 2016 European Commission Election Debate
Hello and welcome to the European Commission election debate! I am your host Peter Overton from Nine Network in Australia, moderating this debate. Here are the candidates:
- Dr. Richard Dawson from Aalen representing the European Progressive Alliance
- Thomas Ericsson from Fremet representing the European Progressive Alliance
- First Lady Marie Solomon from Halsberg
- John H. Thomas from Broome
- Anja Emerett from Inquista representing the European Progressive Alliance
I invite you all to make your opening statements.
"Hello and good evening everyone. I am glad to be here today and be able to to share my vision with you all.
I would like to begin by thanking the outgoing Premier Commissioner for her service. Premier Whiteford has done a magnificent job in holding and supporting serious discussions concerning our institutions and the need for reform. I believe that we should continue to build upon Premier Whiteford's legacy, and that Commission should play a role in propagating discussions about the structure and ability of all of our institutional bodies.
As a member of the European Progressive Alliance, I am sure you know where I stand when it comes to Commission reform. It's clear that our Commission requires more efficiency, capability and accountability. However, at the end of the day, our Commissions requires good Commissioners. The European people are tired of seeing their Commissioners fail them. Our Commissions have done nothing as their offices and programs have slid into decay, and they have done nothing as Europe has continued to become more fragmented. Severe inactivity and malpractice in their offices has led to an unprecedented amount of Commissioner impeachments.
We've all had enough. It's time that we restore dignity and ability to the European Commission. I want to be part of this process.
We need the Commission to work together as a unified and consolidated team. The Commission needs to collaborate and pool their ability and resources together. The Commission needs to set ambitious goals and agendas together, and ultimately, one that works together to achieve them. We need a Commission that not only works together, but also one that works with the European Council and Court of Justice. If the Commission is going to be any good in properly carrying out the legislative wishes of the Council, then it better be working closely alongside with it, and in open communication with it. Enforcement not only happens through the Commission, but also through our Court of Justice. The Commission shouldn't be afraid to work together with the Courts in order to ensure European laws and our Universal Declaration of Human Rights are enforced.
The Commission shouldn't be afraid to be daring. We need a Commission that produces real results, even if it means performing their duties in the face of confrontations or dangerous situations. We need one that is active, ambitious, and hard-working. The European people believe that the Commission has given up on them. We have to make sure that this isn't the case. I pledge my ability, experience, activity and my working desire to the European people. I understand that it's always easier said than done, but I believe the the fact I, being the first one to stand here, to give the opening speech and set the tone for the rest of the debate, says a lot about me - I'm first to take initiative and always keen to serve.
I wish to serve in any capacity seen fit by the European people, but I would like to channel my ambition and vision towards the Office of Foreign Affairs. Our Office of Foreign Affairs is our most broken office. It's in total shambles. I do not only want to restore this office to its former glory, but I want to make it better than it ever was before. It will require an immense amount of work. It will require someone that is very active and has not only has extensive knowledge about our region, but one that has extensive knowledge about other regions as well. I am most definitely that person.
We need to settle our current embassy situation. We need to close our embassies with the regions we have no business with, we need to rebuild the ones we've lost to the allies we've abandoned, and we need to build new ones with our future friends. Drafting monthly updates for these regions should only be the bare minimum expectation of this office. I cannot remember a time when Foreign Affairs was any more ambitions than simply producing monthly updates. We need to do much more than this. We need to build strong and legitimate bonds with our allies, whom should consider us as actual friends. We need a Foreign Affairs Office that is actively communicating with other regions, and taking part in their events. The European Union needs to step up and prove that it's a friend worth fighting for. We need to build stronger relations specifically with regions that will keep us safe. Foreign Affairs needs to recognise that security is a legitimate issue, and that we need a Foreign Affairs Office that will take security seriously. In addition to running an active foreign policy, we need a Foreign Affairs that will actively recruit new members to the European Union. We need a Foreign Affairs that will not only help bring in new members, but one that will help them settle into the region. I would like to lead a Foreign Affairs Office that works alongside Internal Affairs to make sure that new member states transition well into the European Union, and that new nations immediately feel at home in our region. An inclusive community is one that is unified and prosperous.
Please consider me and the rest of my EPA team when you all go to vote.
"Alright, let's get the other candidates out here to debate."
((OOC: I apologise that I haven't posted..... I have been super beusy this week. I will post my opening speech tomorrow afternoon EST. Maybe we could extend the debate out a few more days? :/))
"Hello ladies, gentlemen, my fellow Europeans.
Tonight we are gathered here to debate, the purpose of which is to assist you- the European people- in voting for your next commissioners.
First, just as my counterpart has done before me, I would like to thank the current Premier Commissioner for her dedication to the European Union. She has pushed reform through the council and has not been afraid of speaking about the tough issues that plague the EU today.
One of these issues is of the commission. Yes, it is true we have had one of the least active commissions in European history. This has caused many critical issues to go completely unchecked by the commission. The commission, in order to remain a viable institution, needs to have members that aren't afraid to make tough decisions to put their careers on the line. I came from a small middle class family in Rhodenheim. We had a saying, "You either go it or blow it" and I feel that this needs to be applied to the European Commission. A commission that won't act on the issues at hand today cannot be expected to act on those in the future. We need to make this commission a truly respected International Institution in order to ensure success here in the EU.
As you all know, my campaign centres around me being elected Commissioner of Defense and Peacekeeping, as you may know, the name gives away half of the job, but many people forget that this position also manages the Regional Red Cross, an organisation that has not been used to its full potential in recent years. Crises have risen throughout recent times in the EU and this organisation has not been mobilised even when it was needed the most.
Even thus, I shall serve in any capacity that the European people see fit, and I will fulfill any position I am appointed to to the absolute best of my ability.
I thank you for your attention, and I ask that you all consider myself and my counterparts from the EPA team when we go to vote.
Let's start the debate:
Many people find Europe to be inactive and ineffective, particularly the Commission and Court of Justice. What are your reform plans for both crucial arms of the European government?
"That's a very good question. I'll answer for the Courts first.
The ECoJ's biggest problems are primarily rooted in its inactivity, not in its structure. Inactive Justices have led to cases being unusually prolonged or just ignored altogether. I don't believe there is a structural way to remedy this, which is evident in the fact that we haven't seen any suggestions of reform regarding the ECoJ at any of the previous discussions. I think the prime reason as to why the EcoJ is so inactive comes down to the fact that it only receives one or two cases per term at the very most. A vast majority of our Courts actually see no cases brought during their term. Since there are so few cases, only a handful of people ever nominate themselves for the ECoJ, and when they do get elected, they expect to do nothing. I think this is more of problem in the fact that the European Union seems to have a culture of staying hush-hush when it comes to taking its Constitutional laws seriously. Our Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance, isn't taken seriously. And this is something that I believe the Commission should aim to do. I have already mentioned that I believe that the Commission should work more closely with the Courts, and this is one of those instances. The Internal Affairs Commissioner has a duty to carry out the Constitution, and as the Constitution says, it should be promoting peace and democracy, and it should be protecting the UDoHR. The Internal Affairs Commissioner shouldn't be afraid to take nations and people to the ECoJ for breaking the UDoHR. If the Courts would have more cases on their hands, then I imagine we would see way more Justices who would be excited about their offices, and more active in their roles. Furthermore, I believe the Court's ineffective nature doesn't exist in its structure, but exists because it doesn't have strong means of enforcing its rulings. When entire nations are ruled against, then it's mostly fine, because the Commission or Council can take actions against it, through sanctions or any other means they desire. But what if the Court is ruling against specific actors within a portion of a society? That's where we see the majority of the Court's problems. There's no way a rogue faction leader from who knows where will voluntarily surrender themselves to the EU. So how do we capture them and extradite them? Currently we can't, and that's why I would like to see the Council establish a type of "Europol" to be able to properly enforce its rulings.
Then there's the Commission. The Commission is most certainly having its fair of issues with inactivity, and by the looks of it - with us having to re-run this debate because nobody but myself participated in it - the trend may continue. As I've said time and time before, the Commission can only be as good as its Commissioners. Inactive Commissioners have led to inactive Commissions. If you're looking for a very active and hardworking candidate, then I'm definitely your person. I want to rejuvenate our offices, and I want to make them more prosperous that we have ever seen them. It will take a lot of work, but I believe I can do it. I will get things done.
But with that said, I do believe there are structural reforms that could definitely make it much more efficient. We've heard a lot of different suggestions on the table. Personally, I'm very partial to many of the ideas we've seen recently proposed - such as the ideas of combing some of the Commission offices together, perhaps having it work cabinet-style, and so on. But I believe the exact reform legislation, and its specific contents, should be chosen by the Council. There are many brilliant Councillors with lots ideas, such as Speaker Walters, and my friend Edward Firoux, who continue to put ideas on the table. I hope that whoever becomes the next Premier continues on Whiteford's path and helps foster this discussion further. I would like to have the Councillors all suggest their ideas and then work together on the most common ones, and then come up with a comprehensive agreement that is popular enough to surpass a super-majority."
In lieu of no other participants, let's keep going:
Europe has a mass system of bureaucracies, and some countries may not be comfortable with the sense of ever closer Union that comes with such a large bureaucracy. Progressives tend to be more in favour of big government. How will the European Progressive Alliance work with those countries who would rather have a loose Union?
"It is the general opinion of the EPA that in order to form a closer union, a compromise would be required. A closer union is in fact necessary, but we cannot achieve this without support from a large portion of EU nations. To reach out and find a middle ground with non-progressive nations would be the first step in the long walk to create a tightly-knit EU. Thank you."
((OOC.... I gave a shorter response to spar on subquestions upon this topic :D))
What benefit would closer Union have compared to a looser Union? Many people find the ramming through of controversial measures like the Cannabis Bill as a symptom of close Union and creating an even more divisive European Union rather than one united in consensus.
"A closer Union would benefit us in the sense that it would mean that we would work more collaboratively and in a unified manner when confronting issues, especially ones that go beyond national borders. We can't tackle issues such as organised crime or climate change as effectively when divided. Of course, when facing issues there's going to be different approaches and opinions, and as you've mentioned, they can be divisive. Although, I find that this only creates a divide in the Council, and doesn't really lead to a divide between actual nations. As a whole, a closer Union would also ultimately also reduce wars and economic sanctions between nations. This is a discussion more for the Council though, because I see the Commission more as a body that serves to implement what the Council wants. If the Council wants a more unified, or a more loose Union, I believe the Commission should do their best to accomplish that."
"But Commissioners now have the ability to legislate, which means that your opinions also matter as much as the Council's opinion, does it not? If you could elaborate on your answer more, please."
"I suppose Commissioners do have an equal opinion, but I still personally believe legislative directive should come from the Council. That should be especially true when on the subject of creating a more loose or unified Union, because that has everything to do with the sovereignty of the individual nations, which Councillors are the representatives of. But to further elaborate, I do personally see a closer Union as more beneficial, for the reasons I've already stated, and I would disagree that it would make the region more divisive. For one, a closer Union might suggest a region that it so integrated that an act of war or sanction would be ruinous for all the integrated parties involved, and that even if major disgareement would occur, it would go through a Court or institution to be resolved. While legislation can be divide opinion, such as the localisation cannabis bill, there are few situations in which it would lead to any actual division outside of the Council.
With that said, I've outlined my platform and creating a closer Union isn't on that plan, nor do I feel it appropriate for a European bureaucrat to be the one dictating it."
That is encouraging, but alienating national governments has its own negatives, particularly as a Commission which has to work with not only the Council but the national governments as well.
Let's move on to your plans outside of the Commission and Council reform, which according to your platform there aren't very many. Outside of those reforms that you have famously outlined, what else will you bring to Europe so that you aren't essentially sitting around after those two things are accomplished?
"As I've already said in my opening speech, and on my campaign trail, a Commission ultimately needs good Commissioners, and it requires ones that are active and willing to do a lot of work. My focus is on restoring, rebuilding and then improving all of our institutional programs that are under the Commission's Offices. Virtually every office has given up on their programs at this point. Our Foreign Affairs, which is the office I most greatly desire, has de facto ceased to exist. We need to not only bring it back, but we have to make it better than it ever was. The expectation of just churning out a monthly or bi-monthly update won't cut it. We need to sort out the messy embassy situation, we need to get more involved with our allies, and we need to build genuine bonds with them. We also need a Foreign Office that will actively recruit, and will help new member transition into the our community.
All the other offices need to also be restored, and many of them require desperate improvement as well. Economics hasn't proposed the budget for 2016 yet. The whole Eurozone situation still remains murky following Beech's tenure, and the Bank will still not be accepting new members. The EPA hasn't been doing its duties, and it ought to be perhaps merged with the Central Bank at this point. Internal has dozens of positions that it needs to fill, and pretty much all of its programs need to be started up again.
Furthermore, the offices have to be more active in having a more supportive and helpful role in European affairs. The ongoing arms reduction discussion with the Commissioner for Defence and Peacekeeping seems to have ground to a halt, so that is yet to be resolved. We need Defence and Internal to be more involved with mediating conflicts, and they should also be enforcing our Constitution, which means that even if they must, they have to be taking countries to Court, especially when defiling our Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I realise this a lot to ask, seeing as most Commissioner don't even step up to meet minimum expectations - never mind completely reviving and improving the system we have - while at the same time being actively involved in all other European affairs. Ultimately, this the Commission's duty and I would like to see it done, even if it is am ambitious task."
((OOC: Massive apologies, had a stupid amount to deal with the last week or so and I haven't been able to even log on to the forum. Really sorry!))
I'd like to associate myself with many of the remarks Ms. Emerett has made. The structure and powers of the Commission are only part of the problem. While I'm a keen advocate for reform of the system, as I've outlined in detail previously, any Commission, reformed or not, is useless without effective Commissioners. That's why I'm proposing that the number of Commissioners be reduced to three, and that each holder of the office is fully aware of the duties of their brief, and indeed the powers they can use to fulfill those duties. A Commission comprised of a Premier, a Commissioner for Internal Affairs and Commissioner for Foreign Affairs will be streamlined and reduce the risk of inactive or unenthusiastic office-holders.
I welcome the recent Constitutional amendment which grants Commissioners the right to propose legislation in the Council, however I don't believe it goes far enough. Its a good step forward, but we need to build on that progress if we want our executive to be effective and useful for the people of Europe. People that feel they've been let down by the current system, that don't even bother to vote in these elections. If we want to change that we have to listen to them and change the institutions to work better for them, as well as populating those institutions with individuals that care about their job and passionately want to make a difference. I believe I will meet that criteria. I believe that my experience at the top level of the Halsbergian executive branch as well as in the wider world outside Europolis makes me the best candidate for the job of Premier, the office where I feel I can make the most difference.
Thank you, and all the best.