Today I came across an announcement by TEN-T regarding the upgrade of facilities at Dover and Calais, the object of which was to improve transit of freight between the United Kingdom and the Continent of Europe; ie, between regions within the European Union ‘empire’.
As an aside, if you follow the links (from page to page) it becomes obvious that the EU has a policy of making the same information available on more than one page – but I digress.
As we are informed that the EU ‘contribution’ towards this project is €14,261,536, out of a total budget of €72,027,960, I was interested to ascertain exactly how much of the remaining €57,766,420 was apportioned between France and the United Kingdom, as that would be coming, presumably, from the respective taxpayers.
One of the pages to which I was led was this one - and noticed that on the left hand side was a link to the ‘info sheet’ about this project. In the left-hand column of this ‘info page’ is what appears to be a link to the Coordinator’s Report of the Priority Project: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/ infrastructure/ten-t-policy/priorityprojects/europeancoordinators_en.htm (which is not a link).
Wishing to see what this said, I cut and pasted this ‘link’ into a fresh page and was informed that the address I used was incorrect or obsolete and that I may find the information I sought here (emphasis mine).
Now, the European Commission has a policy about transparency and from their website on this subject we learn:
The European Union’s activities today affect millions of European citizens’ lives. The decisions affecting them must be taken as openly as possible.
As a European citizen, you have a right to know how the European institutions are preparing these decisions, who participates in preparing them, who receives funding from the EU budget, and what documents are held or produced to prepare and adopt the legal acts. You also have a right to access those documents, and make your views known, either directly, or indirectly, through intermediaries that represent you.
Leaving to one side for the moment that if I had someone that actually represented my views, rather than their own or that of the political party to which they belonged, I might just do that suggested; but that statement raises some interesting points:
- If decisions must be taken as openly as possible, and:
- If I have a right to know how European institutions are preparing decisions, and:
- If I have a right to know and access what documents are held or produced to prepare and adopt legal acts, and:
- If I have a right to access those documents and make my views known;
just why the hell does the European Union make it so damn difficult?
As a result I have forwarded a link to this article to the office of the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom with a simple question:
“Your answer is?”
Update (11:51 – 27th Jan): A response has been received advising that there appears to be ‘a glitch in the system’ and that my inquiry has been passed to Brussels. I have been assured that I will be contacted and any response will be published on this blog.
Update 2 (19:45 – 27th Jan): A further response has been received:
Further to my earlier reply the link now appear [sic] to be working. However the information on how much funding is coming from UK and France respectively has not yet been reported (the project was started in mid-2014). We have asked colleagues in Brussels if they have any further information and will revert to you as soon as we can.
to which I have replied:
I thank you for your efforts on my behalf, however the link, as at 17:33, is not working and if cut and pasted into a new browser, the same result is received as I previously mentioned.
and the impression received is that the European Union does not wish people to know the full facts.
In this regard, by appearing to make life difficult for a member of the public to ascertain information on any given subject, it could be held that the European Union is in breach of Article 3, TEU, in that it is practicing social exclusion and consequently is thus guilty of discrimination; the irony being that it is the very people – for whose benefit, we are led to believe, the European Union was created – that are being penalised.
Perhaps the man who stated: (a) that discrimination must have no place in our Union, whether on the basis of nationality, sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; (b) that he is committed to enhanced transparency; (c) that he will work to regain trust in the European project; and that (d), who stated: ‘this time its different’ and that he would work to make this difference a reality, should be made aware of my concerns.
While it is appreciated that I am probably wasting my time, we all need a little amusement in our lives.