Sunday, 22 June 2008

European Union: Legitimacy, accountability and democracy



How to bring the institutional forms of the European Union into line with the democratic forces?

Since the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, a number of posts on this blog have looked at various deep flaws of the European Union from a democratic perspective. European voices have mixed with American experiences and my own views.

Now could be a suitable time to look at these questions as a whole. The Federal Trust Report by professor Vernon Bogdanor ‘Legitimacy, Accountability and Democracy in the European Union’ (January 2007) is a reasoned attempt to discuss the improvement of the EU institutions within the existing structures, in order to arrive at a more democratic Europe.

The 20 page report is available at:

http://www.fedtrust.co.uk/admin/uploads/FedT_LAD.pdf

The report is evolutionary in character, in that it does not propose a re-establishment of the European Union with new structures, but suggests improvements to the existing ones.

My suggestion is for every concerned EU citizen to read the report, so I will present only a few short annotations of the proposals:

* The nomination of the European Commission directly on the basis of the result of the European elections.

* European Parliament power to hold individual European Commissioners to account for mismanagement, and to secure, if necessary, their dismissal.

* Referendums, preferably Europe-wide with a double and qualified majority of states and population on treaty change.

The report brings forward weighty remarks on the de-legitimising effects of the Council, but stops short of proposing effective remedies.

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After an era of public indifference, the European project encountered increasing hostility. The time has come to work with the citizens of the EU.


Ralf Grahn