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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Those MEPs, eh?

For me, one of the arguments for getting out of the EU (the list of reasons is very long, but this is a Friday, and the pub beckons) was due to the lack of decent democratic accountability of the EU as a structure. That doesn’t of course mean that I am a naive believer in majoritarian democracy (I’m well aware of Tocqueville’s wisdom about the tyranny of the majority). But given that the direction of travel of the EU is towards more centralisation of powers, which may be needed to make the dysfunctional euro work (fiscal transfers, more ability to shuffle money around, etc, etc), such a process requires serious democratic legitimacy. Such a polity does not exist, and an example of its non-existence came this week with the EU Parliament’s vote to agree moves to move against the internet in certain respects.

A big majority of MEPs voted for the directive, and a thousand curses upon them. So here’s a thing: how many European citizens, even if they are interested in this matter around copyright, the internet and use of memes, know who their MEPs are? I’d wager that only a small, single-digit percentage, do. Now I am a Londoner who writes about current affairs a bit and follows these things, and I had to Google up a search to find out who my MEPs are. And given how such MEPs don’t directly represent a constituency as with an MP under our first-past-the-post system but are elected via proportional representation under a list system, there’s no real connection between voters and the chap or woman in suits sitting in the parliament. Add to the fact that the parliament has no great ability to repeal directives as far as I know, and cannot initiative laws, etc, then its value as a break on power appears to be very low indeed. But the parliament does, as this case shows, have the ability to confer a sort of cloak of legitimacy over the law-making engines of the European Commission. The lack of connection between voter and MEP also means the latter’s vote will be a mystery to the electors in whose name the members supposedly act.

There may be other reasons why the UK is leaving the EU that are easier to put into a newspaper headline, but for me this is the sort of reason why the EU is a remote, yet malign force, and not, as far as I can see, a bulwark of anyone’s liberties.

8 comments to Those MEPs, eh?

  • I live in Scotland, a single EU-parliament constituency, electing 6 members by PR. That means that I have two natz MEPs, two Labour MEPs, one Tory MEP and one UKIP MEP. At no time before, during or after their election in 2014 could I have named any of them without consulting the web. (The sole reason I recalled which party had which seats is in connection with pre-referendum discussions of what it might mean for indyref and brexit.)

    I will not miss them.

  • CaptDMO

    EU? “.. a bulwark of anyone’s liberties.”?
    There is no “I” in “team”!
    Now if we all just row together….
    (Or whatever that bit from This is Spinal Tap was)

  • Derek Buxton

    So the EU is working as designed, it was to be non democratic from the start! No surprise there then.

  • I repeat (entirely) my comment on The American Thinker: Why the European Union is Failing on 29 Jun 2017. Also earlier (substantially) my second argument in a comment posted on The American Interest on Tue 09 Aug 2016. This is behind a paywall and I cannot find a link.

    One should beware of the attempt to create one or more superstates – or even view the United Nations in such a way. The view from the UK, in their 2016 BREXIT vote holds (probably as the most significant underlying motivation) that the European Union is such a thing. We in the UK don’t want it, largely because we doubt it can work well enough. My personal view of and objection to the EU (replacing the nation state of the UK and others with the nation (super-)state of the EU) is that the EU has no Demos: a common people who self-identify as a nation (eg through shared culture and through few and common political parties). Thus, even if (here in the UK for EU parliamentary elections) the current party list system of pseudo-democracy were replaced, the EU would not work as a democracy. It is also highly questionable whether a mixture of peoples with over 15 significant first languages (24 official languages) could ever come together as a Demos.

    Best regards

  • pete

    The conspiracy of the majority rule only applies when ‘liberals’ are in the minority.

  • JohnW

    It’s far, far worse than that, Johnathan.

  • Paul Marks

    David Cullen (“Computing Forever” on YouTube) has a lot of background information on this matter.

    It is indeed an outrage – and some squalid deal will end up being done between the European Union and the Social Media companies.

    Throw political dissent under the bus and we will not hit for a zillion copyright nonsense stuff – that will be the deal. And the Social Media company people (who hate and despise conservatives and libertarians anyway) will be only too happy to cooperate with the European Union (Mrs May and co) to crush dissent.