Following this interesting post on Rod Toms’ new blog I’d like to add a few ideas to the growing debate on UK membership of the European Union. Claims can often be heard from eurosceptics that the EU is undemocratic, often going as far as to compare the EU with the USSR or Nazi Germany.
In response to such comparisons I found this quote in a comment left on the OurKingdom blog: “Anyone who calls the EU the EUSSR has lost my attention from that point on. You clearly have no grasp at all on history, life as it was for most in the USSR, to say nothing of the lack of freedom or democracy, or the atrocities carried out in the former USSR by Stalin. The EU may have its faults (indeed so has Westminster/Whitehall), but the EU and the USSR simply cannot be compared. Such cheap propaganda expressions are a poor substitute for proper debate and analysis.” I don’t think I really need to add any more in regards such comparisons. The article on which the comment was left – The Incoherence of British Euroscepticism – is well worth a read.
The EU is not perfect – would anybody would claim otherwise? – but just how undemocratic is it? The Council of Ministers is made up of ministers from our elected national governments; the European Council consists of the heads of state or prime ministers from our elected national governments; the European Commissioners are named by our elected national governments and the European Parliament is elected directly by the EU’s citizens. Equally the EU has a written constitution that amongst other things enshrines the protection for minorities of all types and the subsidiarity of power. Not perfect but not so terrible either. The EU is not some shadowy organisation formed by people we know nothing about, but rather the EU consists of people we – the citizens of Europe – have elected. If you don’t like what the EU is doing then think more carefully about who you vote for in your next ‘national’ elections.
Those who criticise the EU often do so in relation to its supposed democratic deficits. Fair enough, but why just stop at the EU? Surely such keen democrats should also be concerned about the multiple problems to be found in the UK’s archaic democracy. When you consider the that UK government has far more influence over our lives than the EU (or any other international body for that matter) then where should our priorities lie? As such keen democrats why don’t eurosceptics rile against our unelected head of state, unelected second chamber, totally outdated electoral system, feudal relics (i.e Duchy of Cornwall), unwritten constitution, unelected quangos and London centralisation for example? More on the UK’s deficits in democracy can be found here: How democratic is the UK?