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“The European Commission only has to win once”

Following on from Johnathan Pearce’s recent post about the EU Copyright Directive, I found this comment by a user called Ask_Me_Who in Reddit Europe. It dates from the first turn of the ratchet, back in June, but in the light of what has happened since it is more relevant than ever:

MEP’s can not create, amend, or reject proposals. They can act as a method of slowing them, requesting changes or rethinks of proposed policies, but if the other (unelected) parts of the EU want to force through a proposal they can just keep pushing it until it gets through in the knowledge that elected MEP’s will not have the power to propose future updates, changes, or abolition of legislation.

The European Commission only has to win once and it can never be repealed without the European Commission wishing it so. The people, as represented by elected MEP officials, have to win every time as they do not even have the option to vote in representatives to reverse a decision. This is the ‘democratic deficit’ that even pro-EU supporters widely acknowledge when they call for democratic reforms to the MEP system.

If you want to bring up the UK, the European Parliament works similarly to the House of Lords. The difference being that the Lord’s have been deliberately striped of much of their power specifically because they do not represent the people, while the MEP’s have never been given the power needed to actually represent the people.

EDIT- And if you think that’s depressing, since the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) lobbying has been an officially recognised and encouraged part of MEP’s decision process under the re-brand “European interest representation”. 30% of former MEP’s go on to work as lobbyists for major industries. Yeah, the people who only have to slip up once can accept weekly fancy dinners and then go on to make €€€ working for companies who give zero shits about what general public’s well-being.

Another example of the EU ratchet in action. No wonder they adopted the use of the neverendum so readily.

21 comments to “The European Commission only has to win once”

  • pete

    The noddy nature of the European Parliament is not really news to anyone.

    It is probably why turnout at EU elections is so low.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The EU Commission is a modern infallible papacy, it is an archetype of socialism, the more they deem themselves “progressive”, the more they slowly become like those they sought to replace.

  • Sam Duncan

    I was going to post something similar in the other thread, but never got around to it. The problem with the reporting of this issue, even on “our” side, is that it assumes that an European Parliamentary vote actually matters. Indeed, it’s the problem with the reporting on all EU issues, everywhere: a complete lack of understanding – deliberately fostered – of what the EU is and how it operates.

    I see further down the thread someone brings up the nomination of Commissioners by state governments and their approval by the Parliament as proof of some measure of democracy. That’s another sleight-of-hand. Commissioners swear an oath “neither to seek nor take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity”, and “formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks”. Commissioners do not represent us, or our governments. They’re not allowed to listen to us, or to our elected representatives. Their sole allegiance is to the Treaties, and the principles (“ever closer union”) that they contain.

    It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that this continues to apply after they leave office. Their pensions depend on it. An ex-Commissioner is not an impartial commentator.

  • George Atkisson

    In the States, our options in the face of overweening government, are traditionally the ballot box, the soap box, and the cartridge box. The European Commission is untroubled by options one and two. Option 3? You have been disarmed and even discussing a kinetic solution is hate speech. That’s why we fight so vehemently against limitations on our second amendment rights. Any loss is irreversible.

  • Paul Marks

    The fact that some people (even some people who call themselves supporters of liberty) still support the European Union is astonishing – it is the triumph of FASHION (the desire to seem “hip”, “with-it”, “anti-racist” and so on) over reason.

    Reason gets ignored as the young (and the not so young) desperately try and show they are fashionable – even though the fashion now is for tyranny. Yes tyranny – for tyranny is what the European Union is about.

    As for Mrs May and co – they have no intention (none) of delivering independence, because they (basically) agree with the collectivist philosophy of the European Union. Whether it is censorship on the internet (censorship is very “anti racist” even if what is being discussed has nothing to do with biological race) or anything else, the attitude of Mrs May to the European Union is “ME TO” – and that is the general attitude of the “liberal” establishment elite.

  • staghounds

    The idea that people en masse will run their polities more wisely than they do their own fat, wasteful, lazy, smoking, drunken, adulterous, spendthrift, ignorant, emotional, Strictly Come Dancing watching personal lives is an interesting fantasy.

    Jefferson’s responsible yeoman is as incompatible with human nature as Marx’ cooperative worker.

  • Mr Ecks

    Speak for yourself Stago.

  • Derek Buxton

    Yes, Messrs Duncan and Marks have the truth of the matter, the EU is based on tyranny of the elite! It was designed just for that purpose.

  • Philippe HERMKENS

    So you want a proper European parliament and a proper European government like in the United Kingdom or better in Switzerland with, perhaps, binding referendums ?

    It’s OK for me. Is it OK for you ?

    I am a specialised European Union lawyer. I didn’t know that it’s not possible any more for the European Parliament to dismiss the Commission. Art 17, point 8 of the European Treaty has been repealed without anybody noticing it except you. How a great lawyer you are !

    The European is a mess. It is going to explode. The Euro will collapse short term. Why do you write such non-sense ..

  • Mr Ed


    It appears to me that you are re-formulating a question that no one has asked. Anyway, the European Parliament’s power to censure and remove the Commission is real if unlikely to be used or achievable. If Wikisource is correct:

    Article 234[edit]
    (ex Article 201 TEC)

    If a motion of censure on the activities of the Commission is tabled before it, the European Parliament shall not vote thereon until at least three days after the motion has been tabled and only by open vote.

    If the motion of censure is carried by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of the component Members of the European Parliament, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from duties that he or she carries out in the Commission. They shall remain in office and continue to deal with current business until they are replaced in accordance with Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union. In this case, the term of office of the members of the Commission appointed to replace them shall expire on the date on which the term of office of the members of the Commission obliged to resign as a body would have expired.

    So the blighters can remain in post until replaced. What sort of mechanism is that? This is what sort of people they are:

    The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt.

    Whereas the English legal system has impeachment, obsolete in England but still lawful. The beauty of impeachment is that it involves a trial of the individual, and their barring from office (and pension) on conviction. Whereas, a censured Commission could be re-appointed AFAICS.

  • terence patrick hewett

    @Philippe HERMKENS

    The Euro according to Blackadder:

    Baldrick: “What I want to know, Sir is, before there was a Euro there were lots of different types of money that different people used. And now there’s only one type of money that the foreign people use. And what I want to know is, how did we get from one state of affairs to the other state of affairs.”

    Blackadder: “Baldrick. Do you mean, how did the Euro start?”

    Baldrick: “Yes Sir.”

    Blackadder: “We…ll, you see Baldrick, back in the 1980s there were many different countries all running their own finances and using different types of money. On one side you had the major economies of France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, and on the other, the weaker nations of Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. They got together and decided that it would be much easier for everyone if they could all use the same money, have one Central Bank, and belong to one large club where everyone would be happy. This meant that there could never be a situation whereby financial meltdown would lead to social unrest, wars and crises.”

    Baldrick: “But this is sort of a crisis, isn’t it Sir?”

    Blackadder: “That’s right Baldrick. You see, there was only one slight flaw with the plan.”

    Baldrick: “What was that then, Sir?”

    Blackadder: “It was bollocks.”


    1. My point : you don’t want a democratic european union, you don’t want any European Union, and not because the European Union is not democratic . Furthermore, i don’t think the European Union is not democratic.

    2. My point : After a vote of no-confidence of the House of Commons, new elections are called in UK. Before the new government is formed, the ancient government is a care-taker, like in every other democratic country. It is the same with the European Commission.

    3. My god : you have good arguments against the EU. Why must you use silly ones ?

  • terence patrick hewett

    @Philippe HERMKENS

    In the grand abstract terms of the Enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating two centuries of political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens and of governance “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

    There is a fundamental difference in the constitutional history of the United States, the United Kingdom and the history of the great continental powers. France has a Bonapartist tradition and Germany has a Bismarckian one. The Anglo-Saxon tradition is that of liberal democracy, hammered out in the United Kingdom after 1688 and the United States after 1776: the German philosopher is Hegel; the English is Locke. The British understand the American constitution, but we do not understand well the European constitutions. Nor do the Europeans understand or want the Anglo-Saxon concepts of liberal democracy. The European Union does not pretend to have a liberal constitution; perhaps the Lisbon treaty can best be described as an authoritarian federal bureaucracy, seeking almost unlimited powers.

    3. Because I am a Brit.

  • staghounds

    Mr Ecks, I’m not speaking for myself, I’m speaking for what appear to be the fairly uniform results of universal suffrage.

    Vox Populi, Vox the people in line at Wal Mart.

  • terence patrick hewett


    You certainly display a low expectation of humanity and the poverty of its ambitions:

    Democracy relies on the simple fact that the Colonel’s Lady and Rosie O’Grady both have a very good idea where their self-interest lies. And in terms of self-interest the Colonel’s Lady has always thought it unwise to upset Rosie O’Grady and Rosie O’Grady has always been well aware of the dangers of alienating the Colonel’s Lady.

    The ideas you display have a long history: the largely self-anointed intellectual classes of the 19th century were deeply shaken by contemporary social developments. The French Revolution of 1789 greatly disturbed those in Europe holding positions of influence, power, and wealth. What the French Revolution demonstrated was that you weren’t necessarily safe even if you were a King: you could still end up in prison or worse with your head chopped off.

    The ruling orders began to be aware that those whose lives they directed were rapidly growing in power and influence. What was worse they were being taught to read: and this was deeply alarming – who could say what ideas they might pick up? A revolution in France was bad enough – but what if it spread? A widespread and deep-seated fear of the common man began to percolate through the intelligentsia: a fear which has hybridised and spread through to the 20th century and into the 21st century.

    In the 19th century ordinary people were described as “the masses,” a de-humanising term, and were feared because it was thought that they would behave like crowds: in that they would be “extremely suggestible, impulsive, irrational, exaggeratedly emotional, inconstant and capable only of thinking in images.”

    Your attitude is common amongst the political class.

    They really do believe that democracy is some sort of confidence trick and that the “masses” are just that: some sort of inert lump to be manipulated by sight of hand and rhetoric, whilst serious people like themselves get on with the serious business of organising the world to their advantage. Seriously.

    They really do believe that the broad-spectrum of humanity are at best children in need of guidance and at worst murderous savages.

    You see how the thinking goes? I am not one of the masses. I am someone special. I am an intellectual – one of the elite. Therefore my analytical and emotional responses are quite obviously far more sensitive and subtle than those of my cleaning lady.

  • Rob Fisher

    Philippe HERMKENS this is useful. I want to know more.

    Invoking Art 17, point 8 seems unlikely, and a bit over the top if all you want to do is repeal one law. Presumably the idea is that the threat of it keeps the commission in check. So how do we repeal this EUCD in practice? Convince everyone in Europe to write to their MEPs; the MEPs all agree; then what do they do?

  • bobby b

    “Vox Populi, Vox the people in line at Wal Mart.”

    Funny. I was just at Wal Mart yesterday, with the rest of the deplorables. Good ammunition prices.

    The people in Wal Mart elected Trump, voted for Brexit, and are reversing trends of immigration throughout Europe. Tell me again how I’m unworthy to make choices in your world, and need to simply follow your lead. My response will likely seem uncouth to you.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It’s not whether it’s couth, bobby. It’s whether it’s grammatical. ;>))


    bobby b.

    Indeed, in the real world of politics, it will never happen. But it is possible .. You can have it for instance with the kind of procedure against the Hungarian government or the Polish Government over so-called or real human rights violations.

    Another example, you will never have a proposal of a Labour MP taken into account and becoming law if the Government is a Tory one. But again, legally possible.

    EU is not more not less democratic the UK government. As a Minsiter, you are sacked by the Prime Minister. And he or she can do that because the others MP’s are afraid to be in front of their electors inshort term.

    Theresa May is now Prime Minister because a lot of Tory MP’s are afraid to face new elections.

  • Runcie Balspune

    “It was bollocks.”

    The economic idea of EMS (ERM and EMU) was to position all the countries in one place so if any failed the others would rescue it. Similar to people roped together in a boat, if one fell overboard the others could drag them back in again.

    The problem was the impact of a worldwide financial crisis does not affect one country – it affects all of them. Everyone in the same boat is no good if the boat is sinking, and if you are roped together by a common currency it’s going to be even more difficult when one starts drowning.

    We were either fortunate or lucky that the one diamond in the turd that is Gordon Brown saw fit to wait until EMS was shown to work before going full Euro, after learning from the debacle of Black Wednesday.

    The bottom line is that EMS is not fit for purpose and never will be, it would appear that a distributed currency system with independent free markets, without trade barriers, would seem to be far more resilient, rather like global trade protects against produce failure in one part of the world.

    The bigger problem is the soviet style attitude of the EU commission, where they refuse to accept EMS is not a great idea and plow on with a defective economic model instead of admitting its flaw and coming up with a better plan.

    The socialist concept of centralized decision making combined with unaccountable decision makers is a recipe for disaster, and the left-leaning commission is not going to abandon that concept any time soon.

  • Paul Marks

    Staghounds – if American experience is anything to go by, I would much rather have government by the people who shop at Walmart than the people who shop at the high priced stores (the leftist Corporate executives who fund every vile socialist group in the United States). A fish rots from the head – every major “Social Reform” in every Western country was “top down” NOT “bottom up”. Every new Welfare State scheme and every culture destroying “liberalisation” (such as killing babies – the BBC were recently complaining of little girls being aborted just for being girls, interesting that the babies are suddenly babies again, not “foetuses”, when the discussion turns to girls) has been from an elite. It has not really been from demands from below.

    As for people being vile and living in vile conditions – quite so we do (and I use the word “we” deliberately, I could clean this place up I just do not bother). And I am not very nice in my interactions with other people – I could treat them much better than I actually do treat other people.

    But as Gladstone was fond of pointing out – of one thing I am certain, it is not via the state that we will get moral improvement. Indeed every state action to improve people tends to make the population worse.

    Still you are most likely just pining for the times when people voted for the local landowner to go to Parliament – and that certainly seemed to work well in Rutland (only a few miles down the road), till modern times. And it was not more people getting the vote that changed things in places such as Rutland (it was other things that did the real harm).