Archive for the ‘European Union’ Category

A “no” in the Italian referendum would be the beginning of the end of the Euro

November 18, 2016

The Italian referendum on 4th December is actually about the constitution. The intention with a yes vote would be to reduce the size and limit the power of the upper house to make it easier for governments to govern. But it is indirectly also a referendum on the Euro. While a “yes” vote would allow Matteo Renzi to continue as Prime Minister, and though it will be a great relief for the Eurocrats, it would be far from a ratification or an approval of the EU or the Euro. A “no” vote on the other hand would be a Brexit-like, hammer blow to the Euro and to the misguided concept of a Holy European Empire. I suspect it would be the beginning of the end of the Euro.

The Spectator:

Though he is a big fan of the European Union, Barack Obama brings bad karma to it. …… His farewell visit is, if not a kiss of death, surely a bad omen for the EU and most immediately for one of those present in Berlin to bid him goodbye: Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who has called an all–important referendum on constitutional reform for 4 December. If he loses, as looks ever more likely, it could cause a run on Italy’s sclerotic banks that could engulf the eurozone. ….

….. In essence, Renzi wants to curtail the powers of the upper house, the senate, and to cut the number of senators — who would no longer be elected, but appointed by regional governments — from 315 to 100. If he succeeds, his economic reforms should be easier to pass. ……… 

Grillo has dismissed the referendum question as ‘incomprensibile’. His movement and most of what remains of media tycoon Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, will vote ‘no’ in the referendum. So too will the right-wing populist Northern League party, which also wants Italy out of the euro and illegal immigrants out of Italy. On top of that will be a significant tranche of Renzi’s own party.

So this has become a referendum not just on constitutional reform but on Renzi — and if not on Italian membership of the EU, certainly on the euro. The Brexit vote, the triumph of Trump and the populist spring tide sweeping Europe are sure to convince many Italians to vote against Renzi.

The connection between a constitutional question (almost imcomprehensibly phrased) and the Euro is obscure but real.

Italy: Performance in the Eurozone (graphic via Forbes)

Italy: Performance in the Eurozone (graphic via Forbes)

ForbesKnow this: The European Monetary Union does not work very well, if at all, without Italy. A “no” vote would be the death knell of the euro. …….

……… If he loses, Renzi has promised to step down—a pledge that has turned the referendum into a popular vote of confidence in the unelected prime minister, his Europhile policies, and—by extension—Italy’s membership of the eurozone itself. As a result, a “no” vote in October will not just precipitate the fall of Renzi’s government; it could throw Italy’s long-term membership of the eurozone into doubt, plunging the single currency area once again into crisis. 

Italy’s fundamental problem is that it’s stuck in a policy no man’s land. Its old economic model, in place for much of the last three decades of the 20th century, relied on a combination of currency devaluation to maintain international competitiveness together with fiscal spending to support the poorer regions of the country’s south.

Signing up to the euro put an end to all that, preventing devaluations and prohibiting budget deficits at 10% of gross domestic product. However, the design of Italy’s bicameral parliamentary system, in which the upper and lower house—the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies—wield equal legislative power, made it almost impossible for any government to push through the structural reforms necessary for Italy to compete and prosper within the eurozone. The result has not just been depressed growth and relative impoverishment, but an outright decline in living standards as Italy’s real GDP per capita has slumped to a 20-year low.

Such a below-par economic performance has led to a build-up of bad assets on the balance sheets of Italy’s banks, where 18% of all loans are now classed as non-performing. In turn, this bad loan overhang has eroded the ability of the banking sector to extend new credit to the thousands of small businesses which are the engine of Italy’s economy and which normally power employment growth. The result is stagnation. ……..

………. All this means that the possibility of a “No” vote in Italy’s constitutional referendum ……. is the biggest clear and present danger to the euro’s survival. …… the only economic choice for Italy would be between continued stagnation, or a return to the old economic model of successive devaluations. The latter course would naturally mean exiting the eurozone anyway. ……..

…….. If Renzi wins ……. the eurozone has fresh hope. But if he fails, Italy fails—and very likely the eurozone fails too.


 

Brexit is still some way away – as a way opens to stop it

November 3, 2016

It was already clear in July that constitutionally, a non-binding referendum result needed an explicit parliamentary vote to trigger the formal Brexit process. The High Court in the UK agrees with that view – though the Supreme Court will still have to have its say.

Back in July, I posted:

Brexit is not going to happen any time soon.

If it happens at all.

It seems according to constitutional law experts that any government with any Prime Minister will need a vote in parliament to give authority to an Article 50 notification of intention to withdraw from the EU. Once triggered, withdrawal is inevitable and time-bound. But there is no majority in the current parliament for leaving. And it could be the best part of a year before such a vote in parliament can even be held. For any chance of such a vote being passed it will need a General Election fought on precisely such a question and that the party or parties in favour of an exit win such an election. But it is also possible that such a vote can not, in the reasonable future, be passed. ….

….. (It occurs to me that if Nicola Sturgeon wants to postpone, if not block, Brexit she should get the European Court of Justice to rule on whether or not a parliamentary vote is needed to give authority to a government to invoke Article 50. Even EU bureaucrats can not quibble with that).

Now the High Court confirms that opinion.

BBC:

Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the European Union, the High Court has ruled. This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal discussions with the EU – on their own. Theresa May says the referendum – and existing ministerial powers – mean MPs do not need to vote, but campaigners called this unconstitutional. 

The government is expected to appeal.

Ministers were given the go-ahead for a further hearing to take place at the Supreme Court, which is expected to take place before the end of the year.

The prime minister has said she will activate Article 50, formally notifying the EU of the UK’s intention to leave, by the end of next March. This follows the UK’s decision to back Brexit in June’s referendum by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%. The EU’s other 27 members have said negotiations about the terms of the UK’s exit – due to last two years – cannot begin until Article 50 has been invoked.

Gina Miller, who brought the case, said outside the High Court that the government should make the “wise decision of not appealing”.

To what extent the referendum would compel UK MP’s to follow the referendum results remains to be seen. Probably the government will not be quite brave enough to hold a free vote among MP’s. Whether the EU will shoot itself in the foot (again) or actually take on much overdue and much needed reform is perhaps even more interesting.

I have a theory that while representative democracies used to, from time to time, throw up genuine leaders, the current trend of giving in to mass demonstrations and calling a referendum for any and all questions only allows space for sheep-like followers. The point in this case is whether a government is to be one of sheep or one of leaders?

Stop Brexit - image Market Watch

Stop Brexit – image Market Watch


 

What value an EU/Canada agreement if Wallonia has to be coerced to accept it?

October 24, 2016

It is reported that the EU is putting intense pressure on Belgium and its regional parliament of Wallonia to coerce them to accept the trade deal with Canada (CETA). Maybe they will suicceed, but it only emphasises for me that the EU is built on oppression of minorities “for the greater good” as defined by Brussels.

EU democracy has degenerated to be the oppression of minorities – and whole countries can constitute such minorities. Minorities are coerced wherever there is a majority even if it is a majority of fools. If Brexit succeeds in putting a break on this rampant disregard for local opinions it would have achieved a great deal for the future of Europe.

France24:

Pressure has mounted on the Belgian government to save a landmark EU-Canada free trade agreement after the small French-speaking region of Wallonia essentially torpedoed the deal by voting to reject it. …. 

Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel was left scrambling to find a solution after Wallonia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement on Friday, but officials stressed that it was local governments rather than parliaments that would have the final say. Under Belgium’s complex political system, the government cannot approve the deal without support from assemblies representing the country’s three regions and three linguistic communities.

“I will not give powers to the federal government and Belgium will not sign CETA on October 18,” Paul Magnette, the Socialist head of Wallonia’s government, declared on Friday. “I do not intend this as a burial but as a demand to reopen negotiations.”

The move has threatened to derail CETA, which is backed by Canada and all 28 EU national governments, including Belgium’s. The deal is due to be voted by European trade ministers on Tuesday, who must unanimously approve it before it can be officially signed by EU leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

France also stepped up pressure on its neighbor to the north by inviting Magnette to talks in Paris later on Friday with fellow Socialist, President François Hollande. After the meeting, Magnette hinted he was ready for a solution. “I am a natural optimist and very willing. What we are asking for is very reasonable,” he said.

Personally, I think CETA is a good thing but many people don’t. It is the EU method of suppressing minority views that I find despicable. Far better if Wallonia/Belgium could opt out and make their own agreement.

CorporateeuropeBehind the PR attempts by the Canadian Government and the European Commission to sell CETA as a progressive agreement, it remains what it always has been: an attack on democracy, workers, and the environment. …… Over the past weeks, to salvage CETA’s ratification process, the European Commission, the Canadian Government as well as some EU governments and MEPs had gone into a massive propaganda mode. …….  The latest PR move is a “joint interpretative declaration” on the trade deal hammered out by Ottawa and Brussels and published by investigative journalist collective Correctiv last Friday. It is designed to alleviate public concerns but in fact does nothing to fix CETA’s flaws.


 

For trade deals (Canada) or for foreign policy (Russia sanctions) the EU is not a competent organisation

October 21, 2016

The message from the latest failures of the EU are quite clear. In its ambitions (or should it be delusions) to act as a single state, the EU is a failed organisation. When it does act as a state it is only by oppressing its own dissenting minorities.

In the first of the latest failures, one regional parliament in Belgium rejected the trade deal with Canada (CETA), which prevented Belgium from approving the deal, and which, in turn, caused the deal to be rejected (since it requires unanimity). The point is that even if Belgium had approved, it would have been by strong-arming and suppressing dissent, just as Germany and Spain and France have already done. There is something fundamentally unjust in the manner in which the EU forces small regions to accept policies and actions against their own interests. “Global EU issues” take precedence over local issues. It is bureaucracy gone mad. Canada would have been far better off negotiating 28 separate bilateral deals. It would have been faster (7 years for the EU rejection) and it would have had the flexibility to be nuanced enough to cope with local needs. The message to the world is quite clear. The EU is not a competent negotiating partner and is unable to represent the disparate views within the EU member countries.

The second failure was the drive by the UK and France to increase EU sanctions on Russia for its support of Assad against rebel groups in Aleppo. That the UK and French objective was not so much humanitarian as driven by the need to protect rebel groups that they have been supporting was not given much publicity. However the Italians and the Greeks and others were looking for ways to increase dialogue with Russia and nothing came of the UK / French “initiative”. The EU is proving incapable of bringing together the foreign policy views of its 28 members. And if that is so, one can wonder why one bothers with the expensive and useless and unrepresentative paraphernalia of an EU External Action and the Foreign Affairs Council.

Fractured Europe  (image Counterpoint)

Fractured Europe (image Counterpoint)


 

EU farm subsidies to a Saudi billionaire for breeding racehorses

September 29, 2016

The EU is replete with examples of how a bureaucratic process is made into a god and they lose sight of the objectives intended to be achieved by that process. Process keepers in Brussels have become more important than process objectives.

The latest example is of subsidies paid to a Saudi billionaire for a farm he owns in the UK where he breeds racehorses.

BBC:

Taxpayers are paying more than £400,000 a year to subsidise a farm where a billionaire Saudi prince breeds racehorses.

The Newmarket farm of Khalid Abdullah al Saud – owner of the legendary horse Frankel – is among the top 100 recipients of EU farm grants in the UK.

The system’s critics say Brexit will let the UK redirect £3bn in subsidies towards protecting the environment.

A spokesman for the prince declined to comment.

Farm subsidies swallow a huge chunk of the EU’s budget. They were started after World War Two to stimulate production, but led to food mountains that had to be dumped.

A compromised reform process – the so-called “greening” of the Common Agricultural Policy – resulted in farmers mostly being paid depending on how much land they own.

Frankel (horse).jpg

Frankel owned by Khalid Abdullah al Saud


 

Collateral advantages of Brexit for EU states

September 8, 2016

The Times reports (paywalled):

Former communist states are planning to exploit the fallout of Brexit with a “counter-revolution” designed to block migrant deals and assert the power of national governments over Brussels.

Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, an influential diplomatic European Union bloc known as the Visegrad Group, will lobby together at a summit next week to ensure that national governments are put back in the EU’s driving seat.

The summit will gather all EU leaders, excluding Theresa May, in Slovakia’s capital to forge a new vision of Europe. It is expected to expose the rift between newer member states ………

No doubt the UK will – in about 3 years – conclude a reasonable trade agreement with the EU and implement Brexit. No doubt also that EU citizens who have work to go to in the UK, will still be able to do so quite freely. But “benefit” tourism will become extremely difficult. The long term benefits for the UK will no doubt unfurl. I expect to see a revival of some old Commonwealth ties. New trade and labour movement agreements will be put in place. The UK could even gain a competitive edge over the remaining EU.

In the EU the dream for some of a Holy European Empire will receive a debilitating setback – thank goodness. But there will even be real benefit for all of the remaining members. For EU member states, the silver lining in the Brexit cloud will accrue only if the power of the EC and Brussels is sharply curtailed. If the EU Parliament (which – by any measure – is the most useless and wasteful institution in the world) happens to get abolished along the way, so much the better.

But one shouldn’t hope for too much.


 

and lo, the EU led all the rest ….

August 19, 2016

The EU lives in false glories. Excluding Brexit, of course.

Table by Euro Informationen

EU at the Olympics

It reminds me of the Soviet Union

euccp image nccg-org


 

Juncker’s days seem numbered as Merkel cracks the whip

July 3, 2016

About a week ago I wondered why Jean-Claude Juncker hadn’t resigned after the Brexit vote.  He is not unaware that much of the “leave” motivation is linked to the behaviour of Brussels bureaucrats and that his name is high on that list.

I wrote then:

The President of the European Commission – a former PM of Luxembourg – is the living face of the privileged, protected, arrogant, unaccountable bureaucracy that is Brussels. The EC – more than anybody – else is the reason for the deep and widespread dissatisfaction in Europe with the way in which the EU operates and where it is headed.

It is time for Jean-Claude Juncker to resign. And that means that the leaders of the core countries need to tell him to go.

The politicians are now realising that Juncker is part of the problem. It would seem that Jean-Claude is not Angela Merkel’s favourite person at the moment. Juncker particularly riled the Germans, the French and the Spanish when he invited Nicola Sturgeon to came calling and then went on German TV to talk about independence for Scotland and N Ireland. The French and Spanish will not thank him for encouraging talk of Catalonia and the Basque country. Moreover it seems Merkel wants to keep the Brexit negotiations at the political level and to keep the Brussels bureaucrats away from the key decisions. If the reports in the Sunday Times, Express and Telegraph, among others, are correct, Juncker will be gone within 12 months.

The Telegraph: Angela Merkel could move to oust Europe’s federalist chief Jean-Claude Juncker ‘within the next year’, a Germany government minister has said, in a sign of deepening European divisions over how to respond to Britain’s Brexit vote.

The German chancellor’s frustration with the European Commission chief came as Europe split over whether to use the Brexit negotiations as a trigger to deepen European integration or take a more pragmatic approach to Britain as it heads for the exit door.

“The pressure on him [Juncker] to resign will only become greater and Chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year,” an unnamed German minister told The Sunday Times, adding that Berlin had been furious with Mr Juncker “gloating” over the UK referendum result.

Mr Juncker’s constant and unabashed calls for “more Europe”, as well as his reported drinking problem has led to several of Europe other dissenting members – including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – to lay some of the blame for Brexit at his door.

Since the June 23 vote both the Czech and Polish foreign ministers have called publicly for Mr Juncker to resign – moves that one senior EU official dismissed last week as “predictable”. However, the rumblings from Berlin now represent a much more serious threat to Mr Juncker’s tenure. …….

“Everyone is determined that this negotiation is handled in the European Council – i.e. between the 27 heads of government – and not by the Commission, the eurocrats and the EU ‘theologians’ in Brussels,” a senior UK source told The Telegraph.

In a signal that battle has partly already been won, Mrs Merkel pointedly met with French and Italian leaders in Berlin last week, excluding Mr Juncker from the conversation.

Sunday ExpressThe fuming German chancellor is planning to wield the axe on the bungling bureaucrat, who is facing calls from across the continent to resign. Senior ministers in Berlin have been dismayed by Mr Juncker’s confrontational approach to Britain over the last fortnight and now believe he is “part of the problem”. 

…… In particular there is fury and bewilderment in Berlin at his decision to welcome Nicola Sturgeon to Brussels and then talk openly on German television encouraging Scottish and Northern Irish independence. ………… 

Support for the beleaguered Brussels chief appears to be ebbing away fast in Germany with the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper urging him to resign in a recent editorial. It wrote: “Juncker once again shows in a fatal way how little he sees himself to be a president of the Commission that represents the whole of the EU.”

That UK newspapers are contemptuous of Juncker is not all that surprising. But even the Letzebuerg Privat from his home country is pretty damning today:

There are three good reasons for a political resignation: a glaring failure in office, a scandal or a dramatic loss of acceptance. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meets all three conditions for his overdue resignation. 

Disastrous Juncker

The EU needs deep reform in many areas. But most of all it needs to puncture the bloated egos of its many arrogant, privileged and protected bureaucrats.

And Jean-Claude Juncker’s name leads all the rest.


 

Only a vote in parliament can trigger Article 50 say constitutional experts

June 27, 2016

Brexit is not going to happen any time soon.

If it happens at all.

It seems according to constitutional law experts that any government with any Prime Minister will need a vote in parliament to give authority to an Article 50 notification of intention to withdraw from the EU. Once triggered, withdrawal is inevitable and time-bound. But there is no majority in the current parliament for leaving. And it could be the best part of a year before such a vote in parliament can even be held. For any chance of such a vote being passed it will need a General Election fought on precisely such a question and that the party or parties in favour of an exit win such an election. But it is also possible that such a vote can not, in the reasonable future, be passed.

A new report from Nick Barber, a fellow at Trinity College, Oxford, Tom Hickman, a barrister at Blackstone Chambers and reader at University College, London, and Jeff King, a senior law lecturer at UC, write for the UK Constitutional Law Association:

In this post we argue that as a matter of domestic constitutional law, the Prime Minister is unable to issue a declaration under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – triggering our withdrawal from the European Union – without having been first authorised to do so by an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament.  Were he to attempt to do so before such a statute was passed, the declaration would be legally ineffective as a matter of domestic law and it would also fail to comply with the requirements of Article 50 itself.

There are a number of overlapping reasons for this. They range from the general to the specific. At the most general, our democracy is a parliamentary democracy, and it is Parliament, not the Government, that has the final say about the implications of the referendum, the timing of an Article 50 our membership of the Union, and the rights of British citizens that flow from that membership. More specifically, the terms and the object and purpose of the European Communities Act 1972 also support the correctness of the legal position set out above.

The authors argue that a Prime Minister and his government alone cannot trigger Article 50 without the explicit authority of a parliamentary vote. David Cameron’s resignation statement where he said it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU” does not specify the legal authority under which a Prime Minister alone could make the call:

The Prime Minster did not specify the legal authority under which he believed he or his successors might invoke Article 50, but the typical answer will be obvious to constitutional lawyers: it is the royal prerogative, a collection of executive powers held by the Crown since medieval times, that exist unsupported by statute. …… 

One of the earliest limits on the prerogative was that it could not be used to undermine statutes; where the two are in tension, statute beats prerogative.  In one of the seminal cases of the common law, The Case of Proclamations,(1610) 12 Co. Rep. 74 Sir Edward Coke declared:

“..the King by his proclamation… cannot change any part of the common law, or statute law, or the customs of the realm…”

A more recent statement of this principle can be found in the Fire Brigades Union Case[1995] 2 AC 513 in 1995, where Lord Browne-Wilkinson stated that:

“…it would be most surprising if, at the present day, prerogative powers could be validly exercised by the executive so as to frustrate the will of Parliament as expressed in a statute and, to an extent, to pre-empt the decision of Parliament whether or not to continue with the statutory scheme…”

…… The wider principle is that it is not open to Government to turn a statute into what is in substance a dead letter by exercise of the prerogative powers; and that it is not open to the Government to act in a way which cuts across the object and purpose of an existing statute. In our view the wider principle correctly states the law and is particularly apt here, as we are concerned with a constitutional statute upon which an extensive system of rights is founded.

They conclude

Our analysis leads to the possibility that the process of extraction from the EU could be a very long one indeed, potentially even taking many years to come about. Of course, the EU Member States have made clear that they will only negotiate once the Article 50 exit provisions have been triggered and are pressing the UK to pull the trigger “as soon as possible”. It is also clear that uncertainty is itself undesirable. But uncertainty needs to be weighed against other imperatives, such as the need to comply with the UK’s constitutional requirements and the need to ensure that Brexit is effected consistently with the national interest. A quick pull of the Article 50 trigger is unlikely to be feasible under the UK’s constitutional arrangements and may well not be desirable for any UK Government or Parliament, even one committed to eventual withdrawal from the EU.

Brexit is the most important decision that has faced the United Kingdom in a generation and it has massive constitutional and economic ramifications. In our constitution, Parliament gets to make this decision, not the Prime Minister.

Nick Barber, Fellow, Trinity College Oxford.

Tom Hickman, Reader, UCL and barrister at Blackstone Chambers

Jeff King, Senior Lecturer in Law, UCL

Citation: N. Barber, T. Hickman and J. King, ‘Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role’, U.K. Const. L. Blog (27th Jun 2016) (available at https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/)

It seems to me that whether Brexit is initiated or not (and therefore happens or not) is entirely dependent upon a majority vote in parliament.

(It occurs to me that if Nicola Sturgeon wants to postpone, if not block, Brexit she should get the European Court of Justice to rule on whether or not a parliamentary vote is needed to give authority to a government to invoke Article 50. Even EU bureaucrats can not quibble with that).


 

Why hasn’t Juncker resigned?

June 27, 2016

Why hasn’t  Jean-Claude Juncker resigned?

The European Commission, Council of Ministers and the European Parliament are answerable and accountable, theoretically to all the EU members but in practice to nobody.

MEPs are accountable in the sense that they are voted in every 5 years. But in many countries that use party list systems of voting, candidates are simply put on a list by their party and the voters have no or a limited say on who is going to be elected. 

In most countries it is very difficult to present a new list alongside the lists of the traditional parties represented in the national parliaments. Voters have a formal choice but not necessarily a real possibility to have their own views being represented by an MP or MEP.   ……..

MEPs receive €4,299 per month in a general expenses allowance. MEPs do not need to deliver any proof as to how their money has been spent.

Commissioners need to be accountable to the European Parliament. They are obliged to answer questions from MEPs both orally and in writing. Many MEPs do not feel that they receive satisfactory answers. Many believe that the Commissioners are hiding too much; ………. You should also have the right to know how the different Commissioners vote on the different topics put on their table, but at present one has no idea.

During 2004-14, under the mandate of Commission President Barroso, the Commissioners did not vote among themselves at all. Discussions took place behind closed doors on proposals for new EU laws. The Commission President often reads a text prepared by his official services. There is usually no real political debate. The President concludes. Most decisions are taken in the name of the Commission outside the Commission meeting room ……..

The Commission now publishes agendas and minutes of their decisions. However nowhere can it be seen how they actually came to those decisions. They do not provide access to documents relating to their discussions or preparations. EU Commissioners give information about the amounts spent on representation. Yet this does not happen for individual spending, unlike what journalists can receive or request in most countries from their national ministers. …… Commissioners may hire special advisors. These names are now published – but the information does not include the salaries paid for the special advice they may receive from political friends or others. 

Commissioners are proposed by the prime ministers or presidents of the member states. Often a prime minister or president proposes a candidate who could no longer be elected as an MP or appointed as a minister in his or her own country. When former Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Peter Mandelson as an EU Commissioner he had already been twice rejected as a minister by the British Parliament at Westminster. 

Prime Ministers may sometimes propose the names of national politicians they want to get rid of. There is no election procedure safeguarding voters so that they may have the best candidate from their country. 

There is some EU accountability in some of the national parliaments. In Denmark the European Affairs committee has met in public every Friday since October 2006 and  it can  give negotiating mandates to Danish ministers before the latter can approve something in the  EU Council of Ministers.  

There is no other  EU country where ministers need to have a negotiating mandate for such votes at EU level. In most countries the national MPs are rather badly informed about EU law proposals and have no real influence. Even in Denmark it is normally the civil servants in the ministries who decide and implement the Danish position in the 275 Council working groups. 

They are assisted by 35 special committees composed of representatives from business organisations and NGOs in an tightly woven corporative system. 

The ordinary members of parliament, the media and citizens are sidelined in the important preparatory phase where most EU decisions are prepared and then adopted.

The President of the European Commission – a former PM of Luxembourg – is the living face of the privileged, protected, arrogant, unaccountable bureaucracy that is Brussels. The EC – more than anybody – else is the reason for the deep and widespread dissatisfaction in Europe with the way in which the EU operates and where it is headed.

It is time for Jean-Claude Juncker to resign. And that means that the leaders of the core countries need to tell him to go.


 


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