‘Is there a democratic deficit at the heart of the EU?’
-What is a democratic deficit?
The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political union of 27 member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Important institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Central Bank. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens. It is often implied that the EU has a withholds some elements of ...view middle of the document...
This was met with fury in Athens, as the Germans initially played a large part in proposing Greece’s austerity measures. Even the former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, who when in power was a great advocate of solidarity, warned of the danger of "undermining democracy"Nigel Farage too expressed his concerns of the German domination in his infamous outburst in the European Parliament claiming them to be a ‘puppet government’ under the Germans. Germany are the leading country economically within the EU and many claim that this has allowed them to take control of the rest of the failing European economy. This of course is not in principle how the EU should be run, yet as a result of Germany being in control of so many influencing factors within the EU, German domination defies key principles of the European Union. Whilst domination by individual states is a major problem, a bigger risk to the democratic foundations of the EU is the European Commission's expert advisory groups that are dominated by big businesses, drowning out the voices of ordinary people and distorting the EU's legislative process. Only last month did the Corporate Europe Observatory release a video explaining that this was how any interest group could get their point of view across to the commission's policy officer. The problem is that with big business interests dominating large numbers of the commission's advisory groups, the policy officers do not necessarily get to hear anything else. The commission's advisory groups are a little known (and not very transparent) part of Brussels' policy-making process. Set up by the commission itself, they are intended to provide expert knowledge on issues being considered for legislation. Instead research for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation, has shown that big business interests dominate a huge number of the commission's advisory groups – while other groups rarely have a voice. As Johannes Kleis from the European Consumers' Group says in the video: "It is a biased situation." The views of the general public, or of groups working to protect consumer rights, public health, or the environment, are simply drowned out. As a result of this huge bias, the ‘power to the people’ aspect of the EU is lost, instead focus is turned towards helping corporations turn bigger profits.
Some claim that aspects of the EU commission increase the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.
The European Commission is an entirely appointed institution with each head of state choosing the commissioner to represent their country in the EU. They are not democratically elected as with most domestic elections and thus you lose a huge connection between the people of Europe and the European Union. As well as losing touch with the people of Europe, the choices of heads of state can also be questionable. This was certainly the case with Edith Cresson, the EU commissioner for science and research in 1995 who became dubbed the...