Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Actually, the fact that the EU is democratic and transparent is what makes it unpopular.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 4, 2015 in European Union |

For 1000 points, who is Roberto Acevedo? What about Dr. Fang Liu? OK, here’s an easier one: Jens Stoltenberg. What about Jean-Claude Juncker? Ever heard of him? I’m sure many of you, being educated and informed readers of quality, will know who all four are. But failing that, if you only knew one, I’d wager I know which one it was. Almost certainly Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the “undemocratic” European Commission.

For the record, the others are, in order of appearance, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the Secretary General of NATO.

Next question: which one of them was appointed by a directly elected parliament? Which one of them answers to a directly elected parliament? Again, you know the answer.

Yet, all across Europe it’ll be the EU that will be denounced as undemocratic. The other organisations will hardly get a mention despite the fact that all have actual decision making powers. For example, in this age where we’re all talking about tougher border controls, hands up who sets the global standards for machine-readable and bio-metric passports? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Not national governments, for a start. Step forward Dr. Liu.

Put it another way: would the EU be more or less popular if, say, the European Parliament never existed? Given that the parliament’s open debating of all proposals, loopy or not (and there’s no shortage of loopy proposals) is a steady source of hysterical stories for elements of the media, it’s not unreasonable to say that no parliament would have meant less hysterical story material.

But the EU, being BY FAR the most open and democratic international organisation in the world has by that very transparency cut a rod for its own back.

And, by the way, as a simple aside, remember that it was the democratic aspect of the EU which gave millions of British eurosceptics parliamentary representation when their own national parliament just ignored them.

The truth is that if the EU had operated with the same level of transparency of, say, the WTO, it would be less unpopular because nobody would know what it actually does.

Take NATO’s parliament, for example. NATO’s what now? Yeah, that’s right: NATO’s parliamentary assembly. Know how many UKIP members it has? Not one, because they’re chosen by parliament, as the European Parliament was before direct elections in 1979. How many UKIP MEPs do we think there’d be if the House of Commons still chose MEPS?

There’s a lesson there somewhere. If the EU were to collapse, national ministers would still need to figure out structures for cooperation in a globalized world.

Only this time, they’d do it real quiet.

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