March 6, 2017

Time for the EU to face up to reality

Time for the EU to face up to reality

Matthew Ellery argues that the time for excuses is over. The EU must face up to reality: the rising tide of hostility towards a European federalist superstate is nobody’s fault but the EU’s.

There’s a long-standing pro-EU myth: the EU is only unpopular because of unfair media coverage. But blaming the media for the increasing distrust of the EU won’t wash. After all, governments are heavily scrutinised by the press in all functioning democracies.

The problem with the EU is its unelected, insulated leaders do not like scrutiny of their plans for a federal super-state. Why? Because their actions do not stand up to scrutiny.

Enough excuses – the EU’s problems are the EU’s fault – nobody else’s.

Failing to see the EU’s flaws, they decide to attack the media rather than their own institutional failings. They claim the EU is a ‘whipping boy’ and is unfairly talked down.

But why is the EU a whipping boy and being talked down? Is it a random decision made by media moguls to sell papers? Absolutely not; it is a legitimate response to policies being proposed in an electoral vacuum.

EU laws are proposed by an unelected EU Commission, which acts as the EU’s government. The elected arm – the European Parliament – then votes to approve the legislation. Unfortunately, due to its distant nature, only EU political obsessives have any idea who their MEPs even are, never mind which way they vote. Additionally, the UK is underrepresented in relation to the number of MEPs it has, when compared to nations with smaller populations. Lastly, ministers from each Member State have the final say on whether the law is adopted.

Some argue, the fact ministers have the final say on the implementation of the law, gives the legislation democratic legitimacy. But this is incorrect for two reasons. First, the minister approves the law rather than domestic parliaments. This makes oversight and accountability to the home electorate impossible. Second, and more importantly, the vast majority of EU laws do not require unanimity, therefore, the minister can vote against an EU law and the law is implemented domestically regardless.

This is why, hypothetically, the UK’s EU Commissioner, Sir Julian King, all the UK’s MEPs, the UK Government and in fact every single person in the UK could oppose an EU law, and the law would still be implemented here and in all EU Member States. In this situation, who can the British people hold to account for the new law? Where is the democratic legitimacy? Nowhere to be seen!

It is on this platform of democratic illegitimacy the EU’s woes flow from. This allowed Vote Leave to run the successful EU Referendum campaign on the slogan ‘Take Back Control’, which summed up its fundamental problem. The message clearly got through to the public, with ‘sovereignty’ being the most popular reason for ‘Leave’ voters supporting Brexit.

These democratic failures and the range of policy disasters – from butter mountains to bendy bananas – is however, considered too much for the EU to deal with, despite media coverage of its institutions being skin deep at best. The EU objects to this on the grounds of it being unfair, when it is the exact opposite.

If the EU wants to govern hundreds of millions of people in a federal superstate, then it’s not just acceptable – but necessary for it to be properly scrutinised. Crying foul over negative media coverage, simply shows the EU’s utter contempt for transparency, democracy and the people of Europe. We are about to Get Britain Out of the EU, and if the bloc wishes to prevent more exits across Europe, it must adapt and embrace genuine scrutiny of its crumbling institutions.

4.80 avg. rating (95% score) - 30 votes
Matthew Ellery
Matthew Ellery
Matthew Ellery is a Research Executive at Eurosceptic campaign group Get Britain Out. He joined the campaign in early 2016 after training as a barrister at Cardiff University.
  • hereward

    Yes UKIP are in trouble but what has and is causing the trouble ? One simple answer that this journo does indeed mention but gives no significance to .
    ” It was only the First Past the Post voting system that prevented the party from translating this into a proportional share of the seats in the Commons. ”
    Exactly . With 4 million votes at the last GE UKIP would have had 50 plus seats now in Parliament and would now be fighting to retain those seats . The situation would have been a complete transformation. Small parties are crucified by the wasting vote machine called FPTP . Whatever I vote in my area I will get a Liebour MP.
    Many people who have lived in an area for 35 years have never got the person or Party they voted for elected , EVER .
    The £500 cost is also a barrier to standing as a candidate especially as you are very likely to lose it under FPTP . This penalty does not apply to the Lab/Con alliance as they almost never lose that deposit . UKIP are not going away because they are still needed (and badly) . The Lab/Con can not be trusted on immigration or finance .
    The Lab/Con have solid and disastrous failures in their record . Iraq, Libya , QE ,Housing and House prices , Interest Rates , Immigration and National debt .
    UKIP have no such baggage . But Hey !!
    They are the ones to bash !

  • J M

    If the Tories win a three figure majority the BBC will take it upon itself to become Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. If the majority is 50 or less, which in my view is by far and away the most likely outcome of this general election, the BBC will say that it is a mandate for all those who want to remain and lean left. In short the Tories cannot win.

  • keith

    Sorry, Macron, “Centrist”, is this the new spin from the establishment media, how is someone who was at the centre of the Hollande’s economic project, not just as a minister in his government, but before that as a advisor, I think Centrist is stretching the term to the point of farce, he is a champagne socialist of the first order, who’s record shows his left wing leanings.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Stop calling Macron a ‘centrist’. He called French colonialism as akin to ‘genocide’. He wants unlimited immigration into France and the abandonment of its identity in the EU. These are not a middle-of-the-road opinions, not by a long way.

  • cynarch

    Why do most (or a good proportion) of the comments here not relate to the article in question? Do comments just get randomly assigned to an article now?

  • Derek

    If interest rates do rise significantly this year or next, then there is a mega-mountain of unserviceable Eurozone debt which will become even more unserviceable.Assume that London’s considerable financial expertise is less available to help due to Brexit and being “outsiders.” Things could get more than a little problematic. Brown trousers all round for the Eurozone, Hardy.

  • JohnInCambridge

    Cameron… the heir to Blair… drove me out of the Conservative Party as he did to so many others. In South Cambs when Lansley shuffled off we got one of Cameron’s creepy ‘cuties’ parachuted in who is rabidly pro-EU to boot.OK, so she’s been gifted one of the safest Tory seats in a country and my vote is probably pointless. I don’t think Mrs May has done a bad job and in principle I’m in favour of sucking the poison out of the Cameron snake bite.But could I vote Tory in June? Not a chance.

  • Fubar2

    Are Labour MPs going to resign the whip, en masse?

    No, of course they’re not. The vast majority are completely unelectable and unemployable anywhere else. They’ve made a career out of the lifelong Labour voters complete and utter devotion to the party no matter how hard it s**ts on them, no matter from how great a height. They’re too dumb to vote anything else. Corbyn himself, had he any kind of intestinal fortitude would have resigned the Labour party whip decades ago and stood as an independent, but he knows that if he did, that the clowns who always vote Labour in Islington would continue to vote Labour, regardless of how good a constituency MP he may have been during his tenure.

    Labour are screwed. Completely, totally and utterly screwed.

  • Peter Tappern

    An excellent article and analysis of the ongoing geopolitical situation. Trump is indeed a risk taker and risk takers do sometimes win but also sometimes fail spectacularly. Getting rid of Assad at this time means Syria will become another failed state like Libya riven with civil war and Iraq is still not a fully functioning state. I would suggest Trump proceeds with caution, it will be far easier for China to deal with the madman in North Korea than America.

  • Blowmedown

    I see the maritime section of the Japanese Defence Force has 154 ships. Successive Governments, including Tory ones, have let us down and by becoming reliant on foreign powers for our protection we no longer have the capacity to defend our borders. Shame on them all, but the Tories most of all for following through with this.

  • ethanedwards2002

    Petrol is an ultra luxury and is taxed accordingly at about 300% is this right? Luxury suggests unnecessary to me. I think it’s shameful the abuse of motorists and taxpayers.

  • Bogbrush

    We’d be better off if there was a prevailing view that we are unlikely to get a deal, there will be trouble ahead, and we’d better get with it.

  • Otto von Bismarck

    ‘We will trade with the rest of the EU on WTO most favoured nation terms, just as we trade with China, India and the USA today.’

    Total rubbish Mr Redwood, those countries do not rely on ‘WTO rules’ alone but instead have various bilateral trade agreements built onto the relationship (the US for example has 24 of them with the European Union). You’ll also note that we’re starting from a totally different position than say India or China when it comes to our trading relationship as we have been a member of the club for almost half a century whereas they have not. We are deeply economically integrated with the EU states, ergo you can’t rip all that up and go to ‘WTO rules’ without a high degree of chaos and economic damage. We need a sophisticated replacement, not the ‘bargain basement’ alternative which you advocate.

  • Q46

    Continental Europe’s ruling elites – Kings, feudal lords, dictators, Popes and Bishops, revolutionary committees, alleged democratic governments – have not faced up to reality for over 500 years, it is unlikely they will start now.

    The EU is just the latest iteration of a ‘united’ European territory ruled from the centre by an ambitious, self-indulgent few, who seek to empower themselves over the People and who inevitably will fall out with one another.

    It will take yet another war to bring a temporary pause – historically these wars come around on average every 60 – 70 years: so we are due.

    The people of Europe seem to like this migration from one authoritarian rule to another, interspersed by war and destruction.

  • ratcatcher11

    The EU’s idea of adapting is akin to failed socialist policies. ie They failed because they were not socialist enough and with regard to Brussels, they failed because they were not closely integrated enough, as if this was the panacea to all its self generated troubles. The alternatives to Brussels is orderly exit or violent revolution, but if they block the orderly exit then the greatest of all nightmares will occur, violent revolution, when bombers will be ordinary, non foreign citizens of member countries desiring freedom and democracy once again.

  • geo

    sorry eu but I dont think the manner in which you purported yourself was conducive to keeping countries in your club … What with the threats to the Uk to punish us for deciding we didnt want to be part of your club anymore and the bullying. pour encourager les autres? Very Orwell’s 1984.

  • mkpdavies


  • Big Les
  • keith

    Don’t hold your breathe

  • rolandfleming

    Love the retro, pre-23rd June 2016 vibe to this nostalgic article. Reminds me of the good old days.

  • obbo12

    The biggest problem is the institutions built by the EU fail when they are put under pressure. The Euro doesn’t work because its a single currency without the offsetting of fiscal transfers to deal with regional variation. The interest rate in the UK is set by the needs of the south of England but the damage done by that is offset by the souths taxes paying for the rest of countries public services. In the Euro the interest rate is set by the needs of the German economy but without the fiscal transfers becasue the rate is too high for southern europe. But Germany cannot blindly pay tax money to countries over which it has no say in public spending.

    The Schengen agreement and free movement of labour also have similar distoring policies that means the institutions crumble under pressure.

  • DWWolds

    The EU must “adapt”? But the EU is incapable of adapting. A major part of the reason is the groupthink mentality there is such that almost everyone within the monolith seems unable to recognise any of the inherent problems. Indeed the situation reminds me of the frog put in water, which is then brought to the boil. The poor creature doesn’t realise anything is wrong until it explodes.

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