Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Without Opposition: the European Union

This is creepy. From Alexandra Colen at the Brussel's Journal:

SOS Europe: Outsourcing Democracy
Are we still living in a democracy? As an elected politician I am probably expected to say that we are. But are we?


Like Germany, Belgium is a EU member. In our parliament, we, too, are called upon almost every week to vote the incorporation into Belgian legislation of so-called “directives” emanating from the EU Commission. This is a mere formality. Parliamentarians all over Europe press the green button because the EU treaties oblige the 27 EU members states to incorporate the EU directives unchanged into their national legislations.

Hence, there are no debates about the directives and no alterations or amendments are proposed to the texts.
Occasionally my party abstains from voting or we press the red button – a position we can take since we are not part of the Belgian establishment and are considered “extremists” anyway. But even we, I must admit, usually vote “yea”. The EU treaties demand it. The European Court punishes countries that do not oblige with hefty fines.


For my American readers I must point out that the EU directives do not pass through the European Parliament (EP). They come directly from the Commission, which is the EU’s executive. The EP, though elected, is not a proper legislative assembly; its only role is to have a say over the EU budget and the power to veto the appointment of European Commissioners. The real power lies with the Commission and the Council. The Commission consists of one member from each of the 27 EU member states, appointed by their respective governments. The Council consists of a representative of each government of the 27 member states. The Council tells the Commission what to do.

The English political philosopher John Laughland has called the EU “a cartel of governments, engaged in a permanent conspiracy against their own electorates and parliaments.” European integration favors the power of national governments over that of their respective parliaments. Laws in the EU are made by the governments and the approval of an elected legislative is not required since the treaties oblige the member states to incorporate the EU laws into their own national legislation.

“It is for this simple reason,” says Mr. Laughland, “that all establishment politicians, whether of Left or Right, are in favor of the EU. It increases their power and their room for maneuver. How much easier it is to pass laws in a quiet and secret meeting with your twenty-seven colleagues, than it is to do so in front of a fractious parliament where there is usually an in-built opposition.” [...]

And what kind of government to you get, where there is no built-in opposition and no public debate? Voting in Europe has been rendered meaningless, because the legislator's that the citizen's can vote for are powerless. If you read the whole article, it goes into the details, with examples from Germany and Belgium. The EU is passing and imposing laws, not the national parliaments of member states. No wonder the Europeans want a vote in the American elections. The votes in their own countries mean nothing anymore.

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