A Democratic Deficit in the EU Essay

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A Democratic Deficit in the EU The question over the legitimacy of the EU has been a nearly continuous debate and many commentators appear to agree that the EU suffers from a severe ‘democratic deficit’. There are many reasons why this perception is so widespread. As a multinational body it lacks the grounding in common history and culture upon which most individual polities can draw. However, this should not necessarily disqualify the EU from being treated as a democratically legitimate body. Andrew Moravcsik believes concern about the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ to be misplaced. Judged against existing democracies, rather than ideal parliamentary democracy, the EU is legitimate. Most critics…show more content…
Most powerful of all is the Council of Ministers which deliberates in secret and until recently was not legally obliged to listen to the EP’s decisions. While indirectly accountable to voters, the link is too tenuous and the mode of interaction too technocratic to satisfy most observers. It also appears unreasonable that the deliberations of the Parliament must be public whereas the Council remains secretive. The European Council only meets every six months, largely as confirmation of decisions made elsewhere, but McCormick remarks upon its remarkable potential power: “It can in effect set the agenda for the Commission, override decisions reached by the Council of Ministers and largely ignore Parliament.” Analysts have also criticised the undemocratic nature of the legislation, because interest groups dominate policy-making in the EU excluding more regular channels of democratic governance. The very complexity of the legislative procedures also means that it is virtually impossible for even experts to understand them. In addition much of the decision making takes place behind closed doors. They have also targeted European elections as decentralised, apathetic affairs. In the 1999 European elections the voter turnout for Britain was just 23%. The party ‘List’ method of elections has caused a great deal of controversy and there
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