Is the EU Democratic?

Structure:

  1. The EU Commission: Commissioners, one per state, are appointed by each member state’s leader. They are not elected.
  2. Commissioners work for the interests of the EU not the individual member states.
  3. The Commission proposes all new laws, rules and regulations. The people actually writing the EU laws are carrier bureaucrats, loyal not to any elected authority or state but loyal only to the un-elected Commission
  4. The EU Parliament is democratically elected.
  5. However, the EU Parliament can only amend rules and regulations proposed by The EU Commission. They cannot themselves, propose new laws, rules and regulations. This is not real political power in the only elected assembly.
  6. The MEP’s of any one country are not enough to change a law, they must gain the votes of enough MEP’s from other nations to do that.
  7. Laws from the EU can supersede national laws passed by a democratically elected national parliament or legislature.

My thoughts:

A. So nobody in the EU, directly elected, is looking out for the interests of the people of Hamburg, Normandy or Yorkshire.

B. The farther away The People are from The Mothership (seat of power), the more layers of government there are between the electorate and the rulers (both elected and appointed) the less responsive that government is to the will of the people.

C. This was probably a fine system when it was completely confined to governing just trade, but this is not democratic enough for true political rule.

D. This is not to say that national governments have no power or influence in EU governance. But, as we have seen, the big economic powers within the EU, (read Germany and France) can pretty much get what they want if they stay united. The rest of the EU pretty much has to go along with it. Long term this is going to cause * * the people** of smaller countries to chafe under non-representative laws from Brussels.

E. Bureaucracies like to expand their own power. It’s a hard and fast rule. This is a creeping doom as slowly, sometimes over years, sometimes over decades or generations, power is eroded from the sovereign and elected national governments and surrendered to the largely un-elected EU. This may be welcome in nation states who’s governments have little political legitimacy, but this cannot go down well in countries that have long standing political institutions that have great legitimacy, nor will it go down well with countries that have just recently thrown off the yoke of occupation by the late Soviet empire.

F. The idea of the EU as the United States of Europe, seems to be about giving up on the idea of national governments. This is a sad abdication of power and loss of national confidence.

G. The cynical side of me thinks that the EU is the illusion of democracy with less of the actual substance of representative government. It’s “blue smoke and mirrors”. Is the deception an intentional means of getting people to give up their representation?

H. On the positive side: insulation - isolation from the massed electorate, works both ways and it may have the effect that the EU is better able to stand up to and regulate massive multi-national industries and business interests better than a small nation state can.

A lot of people are going to equate this with Brexit, and frankly the concerns do apply. However, most of my education is in political science and history, and I have been thinking about this for many years before Brexit was even a word. Also, I believe in representative democracy and I do not believe in rule by plebiscite.

As Edmund Burke said:

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

Brad Enslen @bradenslen

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