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The "democratic deficit" is a charge coming from all over the political spectrum nowadays. It may have originated with the neolibs or with the Eurosceptics, but it has taken a life of its own because it has a kernel of truth. The truth is that the EU, as an intergovernmental organisation, has features that people have a hard time getting their heads around, given the perception of the EU as a "superstate" and the expectation that states will be democratic.

It's the political elite, and the governments of the Member States, that want the treaties passed by the parliaments. After all, the governments more or less control their own parliaments.

Maxi or Mini, the treaty requires a referencum in some of the member states anyway. Including France now, right?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 08:47:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you blame the EU or the national governments for the EU's democracy deficit? Maybe that's the differencet Jérôme meant.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 09:08:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU is a construct of the national elites and of the member states. The EU's democratic deficit is structural and the member states are responsible for it, but there's no other structure they could have built. However, the Democracy™ rhetoric forces the states to introduce formally democratic elements which then get a life of their own, such as the Parliamentary Assembly becoming a directly elected Parliament, so far without legislative initiative but which recently acquired more codecision and accountability power (and it flexed its muscles with the appointment of the Barroso commission, REACH, Bolkestein and the CIA prison/flight ad-hoc committee).

In other words, the EU has a democratic deficit but by creating it the member states sowed the seeds of their own loss of sovereignty to a truly democratic EU maybe in the next 50 years.

Giscard's decision to call the new treaty a "Constitution" backfiring and getting a life of its own (with the majority of people in the EU favourable to a constitution but not this one, and two failed referenda in founding member states) is another case where the present not totally democratic structures contain the seeds of their own replacement by truly democratic ones.

Assuming we keep the eyes on the ball and don't let the Neoliberals run with it, or the US put in wedges and trojans.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 06:20:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The EU is a construct of the national elites and of the member states. The EU's democratic deficit is structural and the member states are responsible for it, but there's no other structure they could have built.

Maybe at some point someone will notice that the EU was working a lot better when it was not supposed to be democratic and only works today when it is really democratic (i.e. when the European Parliament actually is involved).

  • technocratic decisions are to be taken by technocrats, and there is no reason to change. You don't get to vote on how to run a train.

  • political decisions are to be brought to popular vote, as they should.

Of course, our current crop of leaders, and all too many of those arguing for democracy (and yes, I include a number of commenters here, feel free to take it as you want) argue for something that looks a lot closer to the opposite.

Abnd note that those people that voted against the EU Constitution by arguing against "this" constitution disagreed with the bits that were not subject to a vote and are still in force today.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 03:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And note that those people that voted against the EU Constitution by arguing against "this" constitution disagreed with the bits that were not subject to a vote and are still in force today.

But the same people (=those in power) who decided to leave out the important bits, also wanted you to vote "oui". So how could you stick it to them without voting "non"? It is a perfectly reasonable response of powerlessness. Withhold that which is asked of you even if it hurts yourself, refuse to play nice. Burn cars in your own neighbourhood.

By the way, this is actually quite similar to the US lefts discourse of elections. Given two bad choices (as neither gives a chance to change the importnat bits), do you either a) hold your nose and vote for the democrat (better then the alternative) or b) protest and vote for a candidate which has no chance to get elected? So now we know that Jeremy, who (in a parallell universe) was brought up in the US, is pretty angry at those who voted Nader...

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 09:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You make a good point, except that the choice is between somewhat bad and really, really bad and that should not be a hard choice to make. It's a luxury sometimes to have that choice, something which seems to be forgotten.

It's an indulgence for most of us (or despair/bloodthirst for the true revolutionaries) to think that it's better to be pure than to work to improve things somewhat within the (more than imperfect) system.

btw - Jérôme and Jeremy are not etymologically related.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 09:37:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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