EU power grab fatally undermines democracy

The devil is not only in the detail, but also in the concept. And here lies the problem with the EU

Meet your leader - the faceless bureaucrat
David Atherton
On 18 February 2013 16:18

The devil is not only in the detail, but also in the concept. And here lies the problem with the EU. An unelected president, an unelected Council, and an elected Parliament that some would say is about as effective as an ashtray on a motorbike.

When researching a recent article on a life-saving drug called Orphacol, which was passed by all member states and the European Medicines Agency only for only Commission officials to veto its general use, deep down in the festering compost heap of what passes for government, I came across a concept called “comitology.”

Comitology is death by a thousand directives, but with unimaginable levels of additional clauses which are legal requirements. The European Commissioners have taken under their wing the EU’s civil service with the express aim of undermining parliament and national governments. Whether it’s what we eat, what we drink, what medicine we take, or how we travel, there’s a pen pusher drafting, modifying and enhancing EU law accordingly.

As this document on the EU’s website states: “The Commission is assisted by representatives of the Member States through committees, in accordance with the “comitology” procedure”, which basically means that the Commission has accumulated additional prerogatives through the Lisbon Treaty. It has largely gone unnoticed. The document goes on to say:

“The Treaty of Lisbon provides that the relationship between the Commission and its committees is henceforth organised on the basis of a regulation adopted by the European Parliament under the ordinary legislative procedure. Until such a regulation is adopted, the Council “Comitology Decision” adopted in 2006 is to apply."

The cat may not be completely out of the bag but we can certainly hear it meowing. Ironically, uber Europhile luvvie Professor Daniel Guegen, who specialises in European and Political Studies, has brought the scandal to people’s notice. Guegen, who has been lobbying the EU for thirty five years, explains in his book, Comitology: Hijacking European Power?, that there is “a problem in terms of transparency, governance and in terms of the balance of power between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council.”

Most chillingly he states: “The Commission - even a single civil servant when they are not reined in by their hierarchy - can impose a decision unless it is countered by the Council of Ministers acting unanimously [Guegen’s emphasis] as 27 member states!”

Guegen concludes: “A huge amount of power was captured by the commission. Not by the commissioners themselves, but by the bureaucracy. The master of the EU is now the basic civil servant.”

Other critics include Ms Satu Haasi, a Finnish MEP, who said, "I think the people who designed these comitology rules did not go to the engine room to see how it works." 

Anna Piesiak, a legal expert at the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU, added: "We didn't really have enough time to consider this regulation before it was finalised…I don't think the [European] Commission itself fully understands it yet. We need to slow down the EU decision-making process and make sure that we fully explain to our parliaments what is going on in comitology,"

Another example of comitology in practice was the process surrounding the 48 hour Working Directive. The UK thought it had an opt-out, but thanks to comitology the directive was made compulsory by the civil servants under Health and Safety.

The net effect for the only democratically-elected element of the EU machinery – Parliament – is the equivalent of a eunuch dreaming of being impotent.

The delightful Alexandra Swann of this parish has even done some high brow sums in relation to the democratic deficit offered by the EU and also quotes Guegen: “98% of EU regulations are decided via comitology”

I can only conclude that such willful disregard for a democratic system, the resultant centralised decision making environment, and a monetary system that condemns a generation of youth to unemployment, will likely trigger a non-violent revolt in which the whole of the EU is brought to account for its incompetent governance. Or at least I hope.

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveAtherton20

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