Thursday, April 01, 2010

We want democracy, but only the sort we want

In the European Constitution and its follow up the Lisbon Treaty one ofthe key selling points vaunted by the pro side was that it would democratise the EU particularly in the light of the new Citizen's initiative. Article 11, Par 4 of the Treaty states,
4. Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.

The procedures and conditions required for such a citizens' initiative shall be determined in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Now we see what those conditions are, bizzarely the first Para of Article 24 seems to refer to Common Foriegn and Security policy - unless I am just stupid.

Anyhow it appears that the Commission are a little worried by the can of worms they may have opened, a million people isn't that many,
On Wednesday, the European Commission suggested how the petitions process would work, and said proposals that went "against the values of the union" would not be accepted.
What so a proposal to have an EU wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be rejected? Who knows, who knows what these values are until they decide arbitrarily at the time?
EU officials want to be able to stop a petition once 300,000 signatures have been collected in order to check whether the demand was something they could act on. The EU executive cannot propose laws in some areas where member nations take charge, such as security.
The thing is, of course that as people who do not 'get' democracy they do not understand that in a democracy, nothing, nothing whatsoever is something that cannot be debated, or indeed acted upon by the Government. After all they are merely the servants of the people.

Now if they wish to create 70% of our laws, then they are our government. And a Government that sets its face against the will of the people it purports to govern is walking on very thin ice.


Julien Frisch said...

Hi Gawain,

the Lisbon Treaty creates two EU treaties, the "Treaty on European Union" (TEU) and the "Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union" (TFEU) ( (see here). Article 11 of the TEU on the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) refers to Article 24 of the TFEU on the implementation of the ECI.

For the rest, I agree with your criticism to the proposal as put forward by the Commission.

Michael Heaver said...

Come off it Gawain! Don't expect the EU to play it straight!

CIngram said...

"Civil society doesn't mean you. Don't imagine it does. It means groups specially created or allowed to exist by our leaders, and paid by them with our money to lobby them, the purpose being to justify what they have already decided to do. You are merely a citizen. You don't count. Point 4 appears to introduce a mechanism for any of us to initiate legislation, but this is of course quite the opposite, being in fact an excuse to ignore us even more thoroughly than they do now. As the article gleefully makes clear, there will be so many problems with verification and uncertainty about the number of signatories from each country that any such petition can easily be rejected by an apparatchik long before it is in danger of sullying the exalted hands of a commissioner. Even if you manage to find a million people in a dozen countries who will not only sign to say they agree with but will give you vast amounts of personal data to support verification. Even if you can couche your intention in such a way that it appears to be required for the purpose of implementing the treaties. Even if you get past the army of paperpushers looking for a flaw in the presented paperwork. Even if you manage to reach the stage where the Commission can no longer avoid taking a look you will have achieved precisely nothing. Six months later you will become the proud possessor of a letter with a laser-printed fascimile signature telling you that the Commission doesn't feel your legislative initiative is appropriate and that, due to the nuisance clause in the standing orders they will not consider any proposal on a similar subject for at least 15 years."

I said that over at my place back in November, and with the inevitablity of an unloved season, it is proving to be true.

Gawain Towler said...

Thanks for that, I knew that was the case, or at least was pretty sure that was the case, but in my own jibbering evening search I had some problem with it.