Democratic Deficit Argument
Democratic Deficit Argument wrote:The EU is not democratic, it is composed of unelected officials in Brussels who govern the continent behind the scenes in their grey suits. The EU Parliament is powerless, the Commission is unelected and the EU ignores national referendums....
The EU is governed by the EU Council, the Council is composed of the elected governments of the EU nation states. The Council is the Alpha & Omega of European governance. The Council, just like the government in any other democracy requires a cabinet to see its day to day business and to focus in each and every portfolio, so the Council appoints the Commission to run its business and to report back to the Council, just like any other elected government in a democracy appoints its own ministers who they all report back to the elected Prime Minister of the country, the same way the EU Commissioners report back to the Council(the Prime Ministers of the EU nation states). Quite unlike the US where the President unilaterally appoints unelected CEO's in his cabinet, the EU Commissioners are appointed by the elected governments of the EU nation states and are usually distinguished veterans in their countries enjoying the support of huge majorities. While it is not necessary or obligatory, national governments consult the opposition parties before appointing an EU Commissioner due to the fact that being an EU finance minister for example is a prestigious position and countries prefer to send the very best they have to fill the spot so that this person raises the profile and prestige of the country that appointed them as well as a person that commands respect and support across the entire political spectrum. The appointment of an EU Commissioner is one of the very few things that brings an EU country together in unison. It is a brilliant democratic ritual that serves as a welcome break from all the shouting and screaming of national politics.
Every EU country effectively has a portfolio for a 5-year term which then rotates between the EU member states and the country appoints its own Commissioner in a quite direct manner(the person still needs to be approved by the EU Council and the EU Parliament) but at least I am not aware of any person being disapproved ever. The portfolio of the EU finance minister currently belongs to France for example and France has appointed Pierre Moscovici, Greece has the Immigration portfolio, Cyprus has the Humanitarian portfolio, Estonia has the Digital Market portfolio, Portugal has the R & D Ministry, Spain the Climate Change portfolio, Malta has the Maritime portfolio, Italy has the EU Foreign Ministry which she took over from Britain and so on and forth.
But why is the EU Parliament powerless?
National Governments in the EU prefer to maintain power themselves rather than hand it over to the EU Parliament, so national governments through the EU Council & Commission are the only ones in Europe who can initiate legislation, the EU parliament is tasked with scrutinising and amending legislation proposed by the directions of the Council and formulated by its Cabinet(.ie the Commission), but it has no power to initiate legislation and that is a good thing for many obvious reasons. First of all, if the EU parliament had the power to initiate and approve legislation on its own, that would effectively bypass our national governments. If that were to happen, then lobbyists would simply buy European MEP's in Brussels and run the entire continent without the national governments being able to do anything about it very much like the US for example. It would concentrate power in the hands of the few and deny it from national bodies. Second, that is how the EU national peoples have collectively voted that the EU should be run, that is in fact the democratic decision of the EU nation-states.
But why does the EU ignore referendums and forces countries to vote over and over until they get the desired result?
The EU does not ignore anything, referendums are held at the discretion of the national government of the country that holds them, the EU has no power to impose any referendum on any member-country, only their elected governments have this power. This is a propaganda soundbite chanted by anti-EU hooligans without any basis in reality or fact.
Rugoz wrote:The EU's democratic deficit is widely acknowledged, the only question is what to do about it.
Its democratic deficit compared to who and what? the US? or Russia? or China? In many respects the EU government is even more democratic and transparent than various of its individual members such as Great Britain for example. While every country and organisation can reflect on its own democratic deficit, deficits in general matter in relation to deficits in other countries and as such it is quite another thing completely having Putin, Trump and Theresa May or Boris talking about the EU's "democratic deficit" especially when Theresa May and Boris have campaigned for months that neither the British parliament nor the British people should even have a say in Brexit at all. The fact that the UK even has such a mechanism to prevent parliament from checking its own cabinet and that parliament had to fight for its own right to speak for months is in itself quite unheard of and mind-boggling. Or what about the fact that a second referendum is considered anti-democratic and absolutely toxic? When in Switzerland for example they hold several referendums for the same issue again and again and again until they find the golden mean. Or that they are dragging Scotland and Northern Ireland outside the EU against their own democratic will as expressed both through the referendum and through their national governments. If the EU has a "democratic deficit" by requiring unanimity between its members on all these particular issues(such as membership and governance), then what kind of democratic deficit does Britain have? A chasm between here and a galaxy in another universe?
One Degree wrote:The US started as a confederation. Every year since then has seen power more centralized. We now complain it is ruled by elites in and out of government. The EU is not immune to the same gradual process. The separate states only have a remnant of their original sovereignty. No one voted it away. The states were not asked to vote on it. It was taken away by appointed judges and using money to bribe the states into abdicating it.
This is indeed a very good argument, in the EU it is the ECJ and the EU Parliament that have the potential to sap the sovereignty of the EU member states just like in the US it is Congress and the US Supreme Court that have rendered the individual states irrelevant. The measures that have been applied by the EU to prevent this from happening are the following:
The ECJ is the highest court of the European Union in matters of Union law, but not national law. It is not possible to appeal the decisions of national courts to the ECJ, but rather national courts refer questions of EU law to the ECJ. However, it is ultimately for the national court to apply the resulting interpretation to the facts of any given case. Although, only courts of final appeal are bound to refer a question of EU law when one is addressed. The treaties give the ECJ the power for consistent application of EU law across the EU as a whole.
As well as the fact that the ECJ much like the EU council is composed of 28 members, 1 person from every country which theoretically enables each member to check on the other.
Lastly the main thing that prevents this from happening in the EU is the powerlessness of the EU Parliament that I explained just above which quite unlike the US Congress the EU parliament can only amend and (dis)approve legislation, it cannot initiate it, only national governments can initiate legislation in the EU. This is the kind of power that US states have ceded to the US Congress and the exact reason why EU states do not cede it away to the EU parliament.
...take your common sense with you, and leave your prejudices behind...