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World Association of International Studies

Post How is the EU Antidemocratic?
Created by John Eipper on 10/22/17 4:33 AM

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How is the EU Antidemocratic? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 10/22/17 4:33 am)

Nigel Jones wrote on October 21st: "I am not in principle opposed to a Common Market in Europe, to co-operation in trade, defense, security and other matters of common interest. This is exactly what Winston Churchill recommended after WWII to prevent a recurrence of the two world wars."

Regarding the same subject, in 2014 I wrote pretty much the same thing:  "The European Union itself, which at the beginning was only intended to be a free trade agreement... proved to be good contingency measures to reduce international conflicts." And "We should remember that at the very beginning, the EU's purpose was only economic, the so-called European Common Market."

I recall that Nigel at that time mentioned that what prevented war in Europe was NATO alone; apparently he did not give credit to the EU for this result. I am glad he somehow changed his mind.

I also wrote that "I do not recall that...the EU... was ever intended to be a consolidated supranational state, a nation with its own national identity. To transform a set of different countries, with so many cultural differences and languages into such an entity, would be a miracle and, if ever possible, it would have taken a long time." To this I added, "In a continent with a long history of conflicts, wars and social, political and economic disputes, to practically get rid of frontiers is a success to me, not a failure. I am sure that if Russia or Ukraine had been members of the union, the current conflict would not have taken place."

The political or economic success of the EU is maybe still to be seen, despite its current problems. Nevertheless it is evident that even in the so-called poorest (PIGS?) member countries the level of life has improved markedly, and every member of the EU has benefited since its creation, even the British, the Germans and the French. To achieve a common identity is another matter, because the diversity of cultures is hard to integrate.

Now, regarding Nigel's question to Istvan Simon about the US hypothetically joining an amalgam of the OAS and Canada ostensibly to facilitate trade, I feel he is completely distorting the issue with this analogy. Maybe he could explain how the British parliament or any other European country has been replaced, what president has been bypassed, what Supreme court has been overruled, or what elections has been overridden, etc.

If I understand correctly, the EU´s three main institutions are:

1. The European Council, whose function is to set the general political directions and priorities of the Union, gathering together its member states' heads of state and governments (elected chief executives). The results of its summits (quarterly) are adopted democratically by consensus.

2. The European Parliament: 751 members, all directly elected. This is the EU's lower house of its bicameral legislature. It shares with the EU Council equal legislative powers to amend, approve or reject Commission proposals for most EU laws, rules and legislation. Its powers are strictly limited in areas where member states' sovereignty is their primary concern (i.e. defense). It democratically elects the Commission's President, it must approve the College of Commissioners, and may democratically vote to remove them collectively from office.

3. The European Commission, the "Guardian of the Treaties," consists of an executive cabinet of public officials, led by an indirectly elected President (elected by the Parliament). This College of Commissioners manages and directs the Commission's permanent civil service. It turns the consensus objectives of the European Council into legislative proposals.

Besides some other institutions, there is the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Auditors.

I believe it is very clear that the EU's institutional structure does not seems to be antidemocratic, nor even autocratic or authoritarian, as Nigel seems to claim or as he seems to depict with his unfortunate analogy.

JE comments: Nigel's biggest complaint (shared with many Euroskeptics) is with the Commission.  I should brush up on my EU Civics, but are all the Commissioners chosen by the Parliament, or only the President?

A big thanks to José Ignacio Soler for walking us through the EU governance system.  Most of us have strongly formed opinions about the Union, but few really know how it works--or is supposed to work.

A parallel question:  Do European schools include EU "Civics" in the curriculum?

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  • Churchill, Kaiser Wilhelm, and a "United States of Europe" (John Heelan, -UK 10/23/17 4:32 AM)
    Just a slight correction to José Ignacio Soler (22 October).

    Churchill actually promoted a "United States of Europe" in his speech at the University of Zurich, Switzerland (9 September 1946), preferring the "unionist" position rather the "federalist position" preferred by Monet and his successors.

    Churchill (and Monet and today's EU institutions) perhaps overlook the thought of Kaiser Wilhelm II when he said, "the hand of God is creating a new world and working miracles. ... We are becoming the United States of Europe under German leadership, a united European Continent." And "If a British parliamentarian comes to sue for peace, he must first kneel before the imperial standard, for this is a victory of monarchy over democracy."

    The EU institutions are making "Kaiser Bill's" words come true.

    JE comments:  I was curious, and the Kaiser's words were actually those of an ex-Kaiser.  The first statement was made in 1940, from Wilhelm's Dutch exile, in the wake of the German blitzkrieg.  The second quote must have come much earlier, when the German monarchy still existed.  (The Kaiser died in 1941 when Germany was still riding high in the war.  Did he feel vindicated on his deathbed?)

    Just to clarify:  Churchill's "USE" was not to include Britain, correct?

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