The EU is undemocratic

The EU is undemocratic, I hear people say.

No, it isn’t, I reply. No more than the UK, anyway.

Let me explain why I believe this.

There are elections for the European Parliament every five years. Just like the UK parliament. You get to vote for the MEP of your choice. It’s a proportional representation vote, not first past the post.

It’s actually a more democratic process than the elections we have for the UK parliament.

What about those faceless bureaucrats and unelected commissioners though, eh..?

We’re really just talking about civil servants. You do know that, don’t you. And you don’t get to vote for the civil servants in Whitehall, do you? You probably don’t complain too much about that either.

Did you know there are about 33,000 civil servants working for the EU (population 500 million), while there are about 400,000 civil servants in the UK (population 65 million).

That doesn’t sound like a top-heavy bureaucracy to me.

© European Union (2015)
© European Union (2015)

As for the EU Commissioners (who are often cited as the unelected mandarins of Brussels), there are 28 of them — one for each member state. They’re appointed by the elected government of the country they come from.

That’s the way democracy works — you vote, you get a government, they make decisions about how things are run. Some you like, some you don’t. Nothing’s perfect. No one’s perfect. Not you, not me. Nothing. No one.

Everything the EU Commission puts forward (policies, proposals, decisions etc) has to be sanctioned by the EU Parliament, which is made up of the MEPs that everyone gets to vote for every five years.

That’s democracy.

The UK is also a member of the UN, which is not an elected body but which makes decisions about invading countries, going to war, ignoring genocide, you name it. See also NATO, which the UK is a member of. We’re also in the Commonwealth — not an elected body. Part of the World Trade Organisation — not an elected body. You can add the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe to the list too.

If you are adamant that the EU is a bad thing because it is undemocratic I hope you are as vocal about the House of Lords, the Royal Family, and the raft of government-appointed so-called Tsars and special advisers.

I would like to see reform of the House of Lords. I’m not anti-royal, but beyond the head of state I would like to see the rest of the royal family – the extended bit full of dukes and whatnot – disbanded. I’d like to see elements of the EU (parliament and commission) reformed, or at least investigated with a view to making changes.

But I’m not convinced things are so bad that we have to take our ball and go home.