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PostMy Work with EU Election Policies (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 10/12/17 10:56 am)
In reply to John E's questions of October 11th:
1. As far as one can trust newspaper reports, the Catalan secessionists explored the possibility of the Carter Foundation supervising their referendum. Apparently it didn't reply.
2. The Venice Commission published an answer according to which the planned referendum had to fulfill certain conditions. It did not.
3. What I said in my previous post about the allegation that such a pucherazo-prone referendum would serve to provide a sort of "legitimacy" to the secession was highlighted yesterday by none other than His Excellency the president of the Catalan Government.
About tooting my horn: the EU through the European Commission had started some electoral observation exercises at the end of the 1980s. The EU was also involved in supervising not elections per se, but developments on the ground in the Serbian and Bosnian war. It was done in scarcely a well-defined and systematic way. When I returned to Brussels from the UN I started agitating in favor of updating in certain areas: electoral observation was one of them. I was responsible for a melange of files concerning security policy (in its infancy), multilateral political relations, human rights and, crucially, assistance to democratization.
I was fortunately helped by a very good Spanish civil servant, Carmen Marques, who did the ground work. We had a draft policy document ready when the crisis of the Santer Commission blew up and we left it for its successor, the Prodi Commission. After a lot of bureaucratic wrangling we pushed the file to completion. I must say, for the record, that we had held open the choice of leaders of the electoral observation missions but the Commissioners thought that pride of place should be given to MEPs. It became a growing field later on and everybody was very happy. Carmen and I fell into oblivion. Such is the fate of civil servants.
All of this I related in my book Al servicio de Europa (In Europe's Service). In the EU I learned how one could combine national inputs with supranational approaches. Don't ask me please about what I feel about right-wing or left-wing nationalisms, from here or there.
JE comments: Getting a policy change through the EU bureaucracy must be a massive undertaking. It's hard enough in a tiny academic department. Ángel Viñas has my deep admiration.
But to say Ángel "fell into oblivion"? We cannot be talking about the same person!