EU – Democracy

Many have argued the EU is undemocratic and limits the sovereignty of the UK. Again I would argue this is wrong or at least misleading.

The EU system of governance is made up of three key bodies. All elected directly or appointed by our elected governments.
First, you have the European Council. This is made up the Heads of States of the member states. (David Cameron etc.) They are elected directly by us or appointed by the governments we elect. The European Council sets the agenda for the EU and ratifies treaties and major laws. All member of the European Council have to agree to major changes. For example, new potential members of the EU cannot join unless all 28 members of the European council agree.

Second, you have the European Commission. This is roughly equivalent to the Cabinet in the UK system. The Commissioners who make up the European Commission are appointed by the elected governments of the member states. This is pretty democratic, similar to our level of democratic accountability. Remember or prime minister and cabinet are not directly elected to those roles. Rather we vote for a party and that party forms a government which appoints a prime minister who then appoints a cabinet.

Finally, you have the European Parliament. We directly elect these people and we do it via proportional representation. Every vote you cast in the European elections counts.

So, in summary. the European Council is made up of our elected heads of state, the European Commission is appointed by our elected government, and we directly elect the European Parliament. That seems pretty democratic to me.

(It may be worth pointing out that there is no unelected upper body that exerts significant power over law making. Like, for example, the House of Lords.)

Does the EU erode sovereignty? I don’t see how. In a globalised world every country has to give up a degree of power. That is no bad thing. We can’t ignore the needs of other countries or act like they don’t exist. Nor would we want to. The UN, NATO, The international Court of Justice, the WTO and others all require members to subscribe to a set of rules and in that sense give up some sovereignty. The EU is much like that except it is there to work in the best interests of the European People and we have a clear and democratic say in how it is run.

Also, it is worth remembering the UK very rarely disagrees with the laws passed by the EU institutions. And we have a Veto over much else.

I really don’t see how the EU is eroding our sovereignty. After all which rules exactly would we like to retract? Environmental protection law, laws over human rights, laws protecting worker rights, laws protecting consumers rights. So does the EU erode sovereignty? I would argue not really.

When people say they want to retake control I think they mean they want the UK to live in splendid isolation from the rest of the world.

Except it wouldn’t be splendid. It would be awful.


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