We follow up our recent post, To veto or not to veto, with more discussion on democracy and the EU (see also Discontented Democrats). Meanwhile here is the definition of the term ‘democratic deficit’ from the EU’s own glossary:
“‘Democratic deficit’ is a term used by people who argue that the EU institutions and their decision-making procedures suffer from a lack of democracy and seem inaccessible to the ordinary citizen due to their complexity. The real EU democratic deficit seems to be the absence of European politics. EU voters do not feel that they have an effective way to reject a ‘government’, they do not like, and to change, in some ways, the course of politics and policy.”
Their definition proceeds to deny that such a deficit exists. Here is their first riposte, “The current form of European governance is such that there is no ‘government’.”
We can respond to this by challenging the definition. Here is our alternative, ‘EU voters do not have any way to reject a system of governance they do not like, and to change, in any way, the course of politics and policy.’
Also we would replace “seem inaccessible …due to their complexity.” with “are inaccessible to the ordinary citizen by design.”
With its definition, the EU sets up a straw man that it feels it can easily knock down. The problem, they believe, is that voters are ill-informed and ignorant: “The public are still generally pro-European, but they do not understand the political system that sometimes appears to threaten their way of life.”
Poll figures cited by the Electoral Reform Society (which believes that the EU can be reformed) show that “Nearly three-quarters believed their voice didn’t count in the European Union, and over two-thirds didn’t trust it. Perhaps that’s why turnout at the final European election was just 36%.” As usual, facts deny false claims.
They use their regular fudge, once again, to conflate ‘European’ with ‘EU’, which we have clarified elsewhere (see Europe versus EU).
The ‘definition’ also claims, dishonestly, that “the EP [European Parliament] has evolved from a consultative assembly to a co-legislator.” The EP has the right to scrutinise and, occasionally, to veto legislation initiated by the European Commission but it does not have the right to initiate legislation, meaning that it cannot honestly be described as “a co-legislator”.
The EU is not willing to give serious consideration to the view that it is not a democratic form of governance and its blinkered pretence will surely be a significant factor leading to its demise.