The rules in the European Union are handed down from the Olympian heights in Brussels. Member states don’t need to trouble their pretty little heads about how the law is made; all they have to do is obey it.
Not only that, but the peons on the streets of Barcelona or Stockholm aren’t even supposed to see the law. The Eurocrats have taken Bismarck’s aphorism to heart: Brussels wants to know every detail of the sausages you make, but they don’t want you to watch them making their own.
As a result, Sweden’s tradition of public transparency has run into the EU’s routine secrecy. Interestingly enough, the affected parties are Greenpeace and Monsanto. Which side do you think the EU favors, the crusading environmental watchdog, or the bloated, exploitative, and polluting capitalist behemoth?
Guess again. According to EUobserver:
EU criticises Sweden over transparency move
The European Commission has taken the first step of legal action against Sweden for having given public access to a confidential document – a move that could ultimately see Stockholm defending its traditional policy of transparency in EU courts.
Late last month the commission sent a formal letter to the Swedish authorities asking for explanation as to why environment group Greenpeace in 2005 got access to a document about a new type of genetically modified corn feed to be launched by Monsanto — the world’s leading producer of biotech seeds.
The information had on Monsanto’s request been classified as secret by the Dutch government where it had handed in its application.
The commission then contacted Sweden after the biotech firm had complained that the leak could have damaged the company.
Greenpeace had been refused access to the report in the Netherlands and therefore turned to Sweden where — after taking the issue to the highest court — the NGO finally got the report from the Swedish Board of Agriculture — the government’s expert authority in the field of agricultural and food policy.
The principle of free access to public records in Sweden is very important, said Per Hultengård — freedom of expression expert at the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (TU).
It is part of Sweden’s cultural, historical and legal background. It is very well established, he told this news-site.
Mr Hultengård argued that when dealing with public documents sent to the Swedish authorities from other countries they should be subject to Swedish law and sometimes that clashes with community law.
The issue was controversial when Sweden negotiated its EU membership in 1994, with Stockholm declaring several times that it would maintain the widest public access and that it would strongly defend this right.
“I assume the Swedish government will continue this position”, Mr Hultengård said.
So Greenpeace went venue-shopping to get what they wanted. Fair enough.
But as far as the EU is concerned, only one venue is involved. The national sovereignty of its member states simply doesn’t exist. I’ll bet that wasn’t visible even in the fine print when the various European countries held their national referenda on EU membership — for those states that even bothered to hold referenda.
Italy seeks to delay MEP seats decision
Just hours before the European Parliament is to vote on a report on how its seats should be allocated in the future, Italian prime minister Romano Prodi has suggested dealing with the political hot potato only after a new EU treaty is ratified.
Mr Prodi’s comments underline his country’s fierce opposition to a new plan on how seats for MEPs should be distributed between the 27 EU states after the next European elections in 2009.
Under the proposal, Italy has the right to 72 deputies – six less than at the moment.
Rome particularly opposes the principle under which a country’s political weight is based on the number of its residents rather than on the number of its citizens, who have the actual right to elect their MEPs.
It argues that the principle favours countries with higher immigration rates such as France or the UK, with Italian EU affairs minister Emma Bonino describing the idea as “unacceptable” last week.
Since Europeans are only minimally consulted by Brussels concerning legislation, the new makeup of the EU Parliament probably is not all that significant.
Still, just think of all those immigrants pouring into Britain and Sweden while Britons and persons of Swedish background flee home as quickly as they can acquire visas.
The net result: new laws are made in secrecy and enforced without a right to real political representation, while larger and larger groups of alien residents have an important say in what goes on.
Welcome to the Euro Empire.
Hat tip: White Elefant.