Thursday, October 28, 2004

Shrinking the democratic deficit II

ObservatioNZ has a few thoughs on the EU crisis as well:

It is interesting that the MEPs who are opposing the new Commission are doing so against the wishes of their "home" political parties. One interesting scenario would be that one or more Euro-Parties (these are currently alliances of various national parties) establish themselves independently and contest future Euro-elections on a Europe wide policy platform. This could involve a commitment to agricultural reform, for instance. It is conceivable, if unlikely, that a victorious grouping could face up to national governments and demand that their nominee be made Commission President.

This would turn the EU (or rather, the European Parliament) into a government in its own right, seperate from the national governments, and with its own source of democratic legitimacy. The question is how much this change can be accomodated within a constitutional structure that explicitly views the EU as being an organisation of nation-states - and how much those nation-states will resist. It's easy to see an active European Parliament effectively being able to dictate member-state's choices of commissioners (by building a tradition of vetoing any commission containing anyone chosen without their consent, in the same way that our Ministers are chosen from Parliament because otherwise the King doesn't get his taxes) - but it's also easy to see member-states getting very upset about this usurpation of power. The EU has an exit clause, and its possible that a member-state who felt their interests were consistently being trodden on by the parliament (for example, by continually forcing them to choose commissioners from parties that were locally in a minority) could use it. And OTOH, they're Europeans, and their politics tends far more towards consensus rather than US-style winner-take-all hardball. What's most likely is that things will slowly evolve towards European Parliamentary democracy, working out the balance of power through crisis and compromise - in exactly the way we (or rather, Britain) did.