Deliberating on EU democracy

J Clive "Nosemonkey" Matthews is a editing dLiberation, a rather nice blog on democracy in the European Union. A particular focus is the upcoming Plan D Yahoo! Answers Tomorrow's Europe Deliberative Poll® on the EU's future. (Three of the 400 poll respondents are from Finland. Clearly we should have received a bigger quota at the expense of the most populous member states.)

Currently Matthews is considering William Hague's remark that national government is "the linchpin of democratic consent". I'll say this for Hague's notion: whenever the government and some EU organ disagree on a topic, it's damned easy to dismiss any democratic legitimacy the EU organ aspires to. After all, what sort of a democracy is it where a bunch of foreigners, even foreigners who vote in free and fair elections, get to tell us what to do?

To use a recent example, in the sugar tiff the decision came down from the EU Commission. Would the reaction had been any different, though, if the proposal had been passed by the EU Parliament after our MEPs voted against it? Probably not. Transferring powers to the EU Parliament is perhaps the most common solution to the EU's democratic deficit, but it's not going to help with the enterprise's image as long as the Parliament is liable to disagree with national entities that have greater democratic legitimacy in the eyes of EU citizens.

Happily the solution is obvious: what the EU needs to become more democratic is lots and lots of national vetoes.

No comments: