Examination of Witness (Questions 60-67)|
2 JULY 2008
Q60 Lord Tomlinson: Okayyou
have won me over!
Commissioner Wallström: This, again, is
an inherent problem of the timing of any policy strategy of this
nature, because it also has to be combined and seen in the context
of a five-year plan for a Commission, like the Barroso Commission,
which tries to set out a long-term agenda for the five years'
mandate. We try every year to translate that into a bit more detailed
planning and then we go into the Legislative and Work Programme
with even more details. It is always a delicate balance to strike
here, to see that we have the right level of detail and, also,
to allow for a proper political discussion on the priorities.
Yes, there are inbuilt conflicts like the one you mention, but
of course we deal with everything, as I usually say, from counting
cod fished in the Baltic Sea to fighting famine in Africa. If
we do all these things, there will always be enough to say this
is a citizens' agenda because we deal with food safety, with toy
safety, with passenger rights, things which are very, very close
to citizens' hearts, which they can see in their everyday lives
are important. At the same time you have the bigger picture of
immigration. Of course, for politicians and political leaders
it is a matter of not only following public opinion but also leading,
and explaining, for example, the benefits of enlargement and how
this has helped both development in the countries where they have
come from and the countries in which they very often work. I think
this is something we have to improve. We have not been able to
explain well enough the benefits of enlargement. The benefits
are overwhelming. All the statistical facts show that this has
been beneficial to Europe. We have ended the division of Europe
into an East and a West. That is a fantastic achievement for our
generation and for our generation of politicians.
Q61 Lord Tomlinson: My problem, Commissioner,
is that I have looked back at this exercise last year and the
year before, and I say, "Apart from the Lisbon Treaty, what
was priority last year?" It has not made a great impact on
me. And if it has not made much of an impact on me, I would suggest
it has probably passed the average citizen totally by. What was
our big idea for 2007? I have forgotten it. You probably have
not; but if I have forgotten it, I would suggest that most of
our citizens have.
Commissioner Wallström: We return to My
Lord Chairman's first question in a way. We have gone the whole
circle around. This means, also, the planning possibility for
the institutions, of course, to set them on an agenda, and at
the same time we want to communicate to citizens. What citizens
will remember is what we do on energy and climate changethat
we have addressed that, that we are doing something on biofuelsor
where we are visible with things that are very, very concrete.
This is what citizens will see, and very few, as you rightly say,
will remember that as part of a five-point agenda or whatever.
We win democratic legitimacy by doing the right things that really
change the lives of European citizens. That is how we win legitimacy.
Q62 Chairman: Before asking Lord
Roper to ask what may be the last question, could I say Commissioner
that if any member of the public were to ask me, "What is
in the Annual Policy Strategy? How can we understand what it is
all about?" I would hand them the nine pages that we have
here of our questions and your answers, which is half the length
of the Annual Policy Strategy itself. I think it sets out admirably
what the intentions of the Commission are. That is a way of saying
that it is hard to sell an Annual Policy Strategy. It is not that
it is 18 pages long but that, for the citizens, it should be in
the form of questions and answers. What is it you are planning
to do about this and that? Then you get the answers. This excellent
document, which you sent us, of questions and your answers, is
the best guide I have seen to the APS since you started having
one. I say that in terms of congratulations and thanks to you,
because it has made our job of getting our heads around this strategy
a lot easier.
Commissioner Wallström: Thank you very
much. Could I say, also, that I am very proud that we have started
with something else; that is citizens' summaries. For all proposals
that we prepare to send to the Parliament and to the Council we
have to attach a citizens' summary which is a one-page description
of the proposal. Why is it needed? Who will be affected? What
does it mean? When will it enter into force?
Q63 Lord Roper: Commissioner, quite
rightly in your thirteenth answer you say that there is no detailed
reference for the European Security Strategy because that is going
to be reviewed by the end of this year. To some extent, the European
Security Strategy acts as an instrument to ensure that there is
coherence between the various Community institutions when it comes
to external actions, and you refer to some of them in your answer.
I notice that there is one which you do not refer to, that is
sometimes referred to as the security-development nexus, or, in
another waythe sort of documents which were prepared under
the Portuguese Presidency and which are being followed upthe
policy towards fragile states, which obviously involves development
and economic matters as well as security matters, and therefore
combines operations coming from the Council as well the Commission.
Do you not feel that this is another matter which ought to be
mentioned and included in the discussion of the strategy for next
Commissioner Wallström: As they say: "Thank
you very much for this question." I think you are more of
an expert in this particular field, but I think we have to note
this. I remember a discussion in the Commission also covering
the issue of fragile states, but I am afraid that I do not know
enough of the details of the strategy to be able to comment. We
will take it with us. We will follow up and ask exactly where
this issue is right now. Do you want us to come back with a reply?
Q64 Lord Roper: I was in Brussels
and talking to Mr Popovska in the Development Director-General
this week and they are doing some further case studies on it in
a number of countries, but it is something which I think is very
much on the agenda for next year and I therefore feel it is a
pity that it was not included in this document.
Commissioner Wallström: I take your point
and we will report back on this.
Q65 Lord Freeman: I know that governments
respond to the Annual Policy Strategy. Are there any other consultations
from parliaments or the private sector?
Commissioner Wallström: I mentioned at
the beginning that we have received four opinions from national
parliaments as well. More and more we are invited to present the
strategy to national parliaments, so I think this will increase.
I hope so, because this exactly the idea, that we will spark this
dialogue and get input from both national parliaments as well
as Member States' governments.
Q66 Chairman: Commissioner, Madam
Vice-President, I thank you very, very much indeed for spending
this hour with us. Even in the virtual fashion that we have done
it, it has been extremely helpful to us. I hope that our questions
to you have indicated what our concerns are. I think you have
met many of them. We wish you well, particularly during this rather
difficult period following the Irish referendum. We look forward
to further contact with you, because direct contact with the Commission
has enormously helped us in our work. We are extremely grateful
for the Barroso initiative and all the other ways we have been
able to communicate with you. The availability of your Commissioners
to give evidence to our Sub-Committees and to our Select Committee
is highly appreciated, and we can assure you that we will remain
what they call in France interlocuteurs valables. We thank
you very much indeed.
Commissioner Wallström: Thank you very
much My Lord Chairman and honourable Members. I never thought
I would say this, but I have appreciated all the contacts and
the hearings also from you. Thank you very much. It is on behalf
on my collaborators here as well. I feel that we have not only
interlocutors but also allies and friends over there.
Q67 Chairman: You do.
Commissioner Wallström: Thank you very
much. I hope we meet in person next time.