Many see the EU as a liberal democracy but it’s divisive policies are leading to a resurgence of far right and anti-democratic right wing parties. These parties threaten EU cohesion, tolerance and democracy. Listen to the real EU political scene uncovered in “Brexit and an illiberal Europe”. This podcast was broadcast before Merkel’s disastrous election results.
The driving philosphy behind the EU is continual integration until all industry and commerce takes place in a unified single market with a common set of rules, laws and policies. To achieve this the member nations are undergoing a gradual process of integration, during which law and policy making of any consequence is slowly moving to Brussels.
Laws and polices made in the UK parliament are 100% accountable to the UK electorate. For laws and policies made in Brussels the UK electorate influences only 10% of the votes in the European Parliament and has only one out of 28 votes in the European Council (For several years now more votes have gone against our interests in the Council than in our favour). So, as integration continues, we as voters lose a substantial amount of our political representation and influence over the laws that will control us.
The invevitable conclusion of continued integration is the United States of Europe. In 2017 two leading EU politicians, Martin Schultz and Guy Verhofstadt, proposed that the United States of Europe should be established by 2025. At this point the UK will cease to be an independent country. For several of the EU states, saddled with rising debts to the European Central Bank and richer EU nations, their independence is already lost. To meet conditions of debt repayment their policies are increasingly controlled by Brussels and the price of leaving is beyond what their populations are likely to bear. Greece and Italy are two examples of this.
It has taken hundreds of years of blood and tears to establish a parliament in the UK 100% accountable to the UK electorate. Two World Wars were fought to preserve that parliament and our democratic rights. In many other countries people are imprisoned, tortured and killed to have the 100% democratic accountability that we have. Should we be giving it up so easily?
It is a common belief that we can veto EU laws and policies that we do not like and that this power will prevent unwanted integration. But the truth is that we only hold vetos in the areas of foreign affairs, taxation, justice, the EU budget and constitutional change. However, the EU is in a state of permananent negotiation as it moves towards full integration. As new agreements and treaties are signed vetos are being replaced by majority voting. Jean Claude-Junkers is preparing the ground for more vetos to be replaced in traditionally protected areas such as taxation. Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty gives the Council of Ministers the authority to overide vetos and make a decision based on a qualified majority. As more nations join these overides are increasing as the new states resent the extra vetos held by the founding members.
Even the constitutional veto has its limits; the other member states can by- pass Britain as they did by agreeing separately the Social Chapter of the Maastricht treaty or setting up the exchange rate mechanism of the EMS.
Other safeguards such as the EU’s neutrality on state ownership (article 345) are also being eroded. The propsed Fourth Railway Package has used EU laws on competition and free trade to create a rail operating model similar to the one we have in the UK. Services of state owned railways will have to be farmed out to franchisees, thus overiding the promise not to intefere with state ownership. Eventually, health care, which under article 152 is currently the responsibility of member states, will also be standardised to fit the single market, which will mean a shift towards a part state, part private health care model as is used in most of the EU. Political scientist Dr Scott L Greer makes this clear:
“But, even adding specific language insisting on member states’ responsibility for health system organization and finance has not removed the obligation of health services to abide by the other articles of the treaty. Member states, in this sense, are trapped in the integration process”;
Failing by neglect
Year on year the number of voters participating in EU elections is falling across all member states. Participation has fallen steadily from 62% in 1979 to 43% in 2014. With the mandate of the people increasingly weakening the EU is increasingly open to the influences of it’s large lobbying industry. Lobbying in the EU is an opaque process as registering interests is purely voluntary. Conspicuous by their absence in the register are large US legal firms that lobby on behalf of major US corporations and are known to be highly influential.