Homewood: EU Law Concentrate 4e
The European Union has been criticized as 'undemocratic'. Critically evaluate the accuracy of this assessment by reference to the composition of the EU institutions and their respective powers in relation to law-making within the EU.
It is important when answering essay-style questions that you not only demonstrate knowledge of the relevant area, but also that you demonstrate an ability to analyse that knowledge.
You should begin by exploring the meaning of 'undemocratic' or 'democracy'. Definitions may vary, but are likely to include the idea that democracy relates to the engagement of citizens with political and law-making processes. This operates through their right to select and reject, in the electoral process, the persons whom they consider will best represent their interests in formulating law and policy.
It is worth noting that the accusation of a ‘democratic deficit’ within the EU goes beyond the institutions themselves. Thus, voter apathy in European elections, perceived complexity, etc. are all relevant and recognition of such enhances the answer. However, the focus of the question concerns the institutions and therefore discussion outside of this focus should be kept to a minimum.
The answer clearly requires consideration of each of the EU law-making institutions, the European Commission, the Council, and the European Parliament, including their composition and powers.
- The European Commission: not directly elected by citizens. Describe its composition, how Commissioners are appointed. Next consider the Commission's input into law-making and its power to initiate and draft proposed secondary legislation. You are likely to conclude that the Commission is not democratically appointed but has considerable power in the making of law and policy in the European Union, indicating that its composition and functioning is undemocratic. However, you may also consider the supervision of the Commission by other institutions which have greater democratic accountability.
- The Council: not directly elected by citizens. Do citizens nonetheless have some influence over the appointment of members of the Council? Describe the composition of the Council and how Council members are appointed. You might argue that there is an element of democracy in appointment in that the Council comprises ministers of the Member States who in many cases will have been indirectly chosen through national democratic processes. As to the Council's powers in law- and policy-making, these are considerable. Consider in outline the main law-making procedures, pointing out that the Council has extensive input into the framing of secondary legislation, as well as the ultimate power to approve it. You should also consider how far voting in the Council can be considered democratic. This entails discussion of unanimity, simple majority, and qualified majority voting and the extent to which these voting methods provide for representative decision-making.
- The European Parliament: the only EU institution that is directly elected by Union citizens but, arguably, the institution that holds the least power. You should evaluate the input of Parliament into the main legislative procedures recognising in particular, the development of what is now known (since Lisbon) as the ordinary legislative procedure. Thus, it is important to trace the development of Parliament's power from the beginnings of the EU. Originally, Parliament had the right merely to be consulted on secondary legislation but its input was increased as the cooperation and then the co-decision procedures were introduced and as co-decision (now ordinary legislative procedure) was gradually extended to more policy areas. You should also discuss the control that Parliament exerts over the executive through its power to approve the President of the Commission and the Commission; its power, by vote of censure, to dismiss the entire Commission; its powers of scrutiny, including the ability to question Commissioners orally or in writing; and its power to reject the annual budget.
- In conclusion: the fact that the European Parliament, the only directly elected EU institution, holds the least power supports the view that the EU is lacking in democracy. However, with the introduction of co-decision, its extension to more policy areas by amending Treaties and its current status as the primary procedure for legislative developments (as reflected in its renaming as the ordinary legislative procedure), this democratic deficit is being gradually addressed.
Алькасар. Беккер снова кивнул, вспомнив ночь, когда слушал гитару Пако де Лючии - фламенко под звездами в крепости XV века. Вот бы побывать здесь вместе со Сьюзан. - И, разумеется, Христофора Колумба? - просиял лейтенант.