Is There A Democratic Deficit At The Heart Of The Eu?

1852 words - 8 pages

Is there a democratic deficit at the heart of the EU?
Many Conservative and UKIP politicians as well as supporters of these two parties would argue there is a democratic deficit at the heart of the EU. One of the big arguments as to why the EU has a democratic deficit is that the EU is an elitist organisation. This argument claims that the EU is controlled by a small group with a lot of power. The elite can be separated into two distinct groups: the economic elite and political elite. The economic elite are defined as big businesses that want a big, single market of which to trade in of which the political elite push forward. The political elite constitute: heads of governments, foreign ...view middle of the document...

The Commission has been accused of being un-democratic by many euro-sceptics because of its lack of accountability. The Commission is seen as being the government of the EU and euro-sceptics argue it must be accountable. However, the 29 Commissioners are chosen by their heads of government and go through no democratic test as well as being difficult to remove because they have their post for 5 years and cannot be removed individually, but the entire Commission must be removed as a whole which is often seen as extreme. This means that Commissioners are free to do what they want and can abuse their powers with the security that a Commission has never been removed through the power of the European parliament, albeit the Santer Commission did resign in 1999. Evidence of a Commissioner abusing her power and therefore being undemocratic is Edith Cresson who became Commissioner for Science and Research in 1995. Cresson firstly set up a youth training programme in which the money for it went missing and was held responsible for this however did not step down because there is little chance of her being removed. Furthermore in 1995 when there was an AIDS epidemic Cresson appointed an advisor, Rene Berthelot, to help her deal with the situation. Berthelot was not an expert on AIDS but her dentist and had been appointed because he was a personal friend to Cresson showing a massive abuse of power by the French Commissioner at the time. This clearly shows that the Commission is able to abuse its power without having any kind of instant accountability which only furthers the argument that the EU is undemocratic.
A further argument that the EU has a democratic deficit is also to do with the Commission having too much power in legislation and policy. The Commission has the power of initiative meaning it has the power to propose all new legislation. Not all legislation that the Commission proposes will be passed by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament but a large majority of it will. The veto of member states which has been replaced by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) makes it increasingly hard for states to block the Commission’s proposals based on grounds that it conflicts with its interest as a member-state. This clearly illustrates a lack of democracy within the EU as the Commission has far too much power and can be proved through the Temporary Agency Workers Directive (2008) that the Commission proposed. The Labour government at the time of the directive disliked the legislation however with a lack of veto and use of QMV meant they could not block the legislation from passing, showing a clear lack of democracy because a member-state disagreed with legislation, proposed by the Commission but were powerless to prevent it.
The EU has often been criticised by euro-sceptics for being undemocratic. The critics often fail to recognise though the growing importance of the European Parliament and treat it as if it has little power like it used to....

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