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 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • rolandfleming

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

  • keith

    Don’t hold your breathe

  • Big Les
  • mkpdavies


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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