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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Governed from Afar

Discontent grows over the EU’s role in unfettered governance of its members--as well it should. The distance between the ballot and the power seems to be growing ever wider.

Brussels now generates 80 per cent of the legislation in EU member states. Let me repeat that: Brussels now generates 80 per cent of the legislation in EU member states. That’s not my figure: it comes from the German justice ministry which, in reply to a parliamentary question last year, listed the 23,000 legal acts adopted in Germany since 1998 and showed that 18,000 of them were there to give effect to EU directives and regulations.

While our own Government refuses to publish such data, I think we can reasonably assume the proportion to be roughly similar across Europe.

When four out of every five laws are handed down by EU functionaries, it is hardly surprising that elections are treated as perfunctory, almost folkloric, affairs.

Just as in Iran, or the old Soviet bloc, Europe’s national parliaments are becoming decorative rather than functional: true power resides elsewhere.

The article I’m referencing takes a rather flip tone, but the truth is that the growing divorce between the citizens and their “representatives” can only make citizens feel more removed from the political process, distrustful of their leadership, and, ultimately, powerless to enact change through legitimate acts. It doesn’t help that Brussels continues to act as if the defeat of ratification of the constitution in France and the Netherlands was a mere inconvenience to an inevitable ratification; it’s even worse to think that there might be a loophole that will moot the reluctance in the UK, France, and the Netherlands.

And, failing the bully tactic, plans are in place to implement portions of the constitution without bothering to actually have to ratify the constitution. To be completely fair, it is heartening to see some parties pushing back against this kind of a back-door ratification.

Keep watching: the ongoing birth pains of the EU should continue to be a fun spectator sport for some time.

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