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  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    8 July 2014  20:39, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre

    Sur le conseil de Charles, j’ai relu ce “Discours de Zürich” du 19 septembre 1946 où Winston parle de “Famille européenne” et d’ “Etats-Unis d’Europe”...Et c’est vrai!!! Grande-Bretagne, Commonwealth et la puissante Amérique étaient invités à “être les amis et les promoteurs de la nouvelle Europe”!!! Spectateurs donc, mais enthousiastes. Ce que n’est pas CAMERON! Il y a bien régression de la perfide Albion!

  • Unemployment in the Globalization Age

    6 July 2014  20:16, by George McDuffee

    While some interesting and important points are discussed, the reality of yet another seismic shift in the socioeconomic tectonic plates, on the order of the shift from hunter/gatherer to fixed agriculture, is never discussed.

    This is critical point in that actions which would indeed correct many of the problems in a “static” environment, will be useless in a “brave new post-post-industrial world.” Several of the driving forces are: Automation, which eliminates the need for many employees; Artificial Intelligence/computerization, which eliminates the need for even more employees; Genetic Modification/bio engineering, and nanotechnology.

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    5 July 2014  13:24, by Charles

    "il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    Oui.... mais sans la participation du Royaume Uni, si vous lisez bien ce qu’il a dit

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    3 July 2014  22:03, by Richard

    First. we should understand that democracy includes adhering to the rule of law. The Treaties make it eminently clear that it is the Council, and not the Parliament, that nominates European Commission President. The Parliament may, of course, decline to accept. It is worth noting that the Council is comprised of elected persons and is thus just as reflective of the voice of the voter as is the Parliament.

    Second, it is worth noting that less than 10% of the European electorate actually voted for parties who are part of the EPP Group. The other 90% voted for other parties or did not vote at all. I doubt that anyone actually based their vote on a preference for Mr Juncker (or had even heard of him). In Germany, for example, the CSU openly campaigned on a “Vote for us because you like Angela Merkel”. This reflects the fact that most votes are cast in a national sense. There is no true European demos.

    The one clear message from the recent elections is that overall there is no wish in the electorate for more integration or more federalism. Yet Mr Juncker favours both. He is hardly likely to represent voters in the UK or France!

    I am afraid to say that it is delusion to claim that his elevation to President represents any great triumph for democracy. In any case, he is simply a civil servant, he is certainly not the equivalent of Mr Obama, however much the authors of this article might dream of this.

    As to Mr Cameron; first, being in a minority does not make one wrong. I would prefer Mr Cameron have the courage of his convictions rather than the approach by other countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands who changed their position to simply follow the majority.

    Likewise, I do not wish Uk MEP’s to sit with the EPP or any other group/party whose policies they do not agree with simply to have “influence”.

    One should keep in mind how happy Nigel Farage was at the elevation of Mr Juncker. He knows that this will make it far more difficult for Mr Cameron, should he win the elections and call his referendum, to achieve a vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU.

    In response to the comments above (I am afraid my French is insufficient to reply in that language); no one in the UK ever thinks of the Empire, it is long past and a distant memory or simply something in the history books for people here. Also, Winston Churchill did indeed call for a “kind of United States of Europe” but he specifically excluded the Uk from being part of it.

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    2 July 2014  11:17, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre

    “La démonstration que les choses ne sont pas exclusivement décidées à Bruxelles”? Dans la mesure, certes, où la voix du citoyen a été entendue (le président de la Commission est issu du parti qui a obtenu le plus de voix au récent scrutin), mais si JUNCKER l’a finalement emporté, c’est bel et bien “Bruxelles” en tant que siège de l’exécutif européen avec, à sa tête, un fédéraliste convaincu qui, pour la première fois (on se souvient des claques britanniques aux précédents candidats trop fédéralistes comme DEHAENE et VERHOFSTADT) s’est imposée. De cela, on peut à juste titre se réjouir.

    Qualifier l’attitude de CAMERON de “pathétique” me paraît doublement justifié. Pathétique d’abord son manque de lucidité et sa capacité de prendre en compte la réalité du Royaume Uni. Son arrogance insulaire ne lui permet plus, désormais, d’affronter seul que l’Argentine...et encore, pas en football! Ne parlons pas des autres défis posés par une mondialisation à laquelle il est illusoire de vouloir échapper. Pathétique encore quand il qualifie JUNCKER d’ “homme du passé” dans la mesure où CAMERON étale ici son ignorance de l’histoire et son nanisme politique: il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    C’est aussi à cette amnésie que l’on mesure le déclin d’un Royaume qui n’a plus d’uni que le nom à l’aune de ses relations avec l’Ecosse et même le Pays de Galles pour ne rien dire de l’Ulster.

  • The EU administration: small and efficient

    27 June 2014  13:56, by Iwantout

    Please can we remember when we talk about the size of the EU bureaucracy (and the EU itself says it employs 55,000 civil servants rather than the 33,000 you claim http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/sefcovic/administration/eu_civil_service/the_eu_civil_service_en.htm ) and then compare it with national civil servants we are not comparing like with like.

    For example the British Revenue and Customs may very well employ 80,000 civil servants, but they are collecting taxes both for the UK and also the EU in the UK. In other words the EU has simply instructed national civil servants to undertake a function for them. The EU is an extra layer of officers on top of those the states employ not instead of.

    In addition the EU civil servants create many new tasks for national civil servants through the imposition of regulations, directives etc. Undoubtedly you are correct that if the single market did not exist then each state would employ officials to check goods etc. But what you forgot to mention was that the EU requires all states to employ officials to monitor the passage of goods between states and check that they are of the correct quality; the work of trading standards officers (technically employed by UK local authorities) undertaken for the EU, to therefore claim savings is a little dubious.

    Simply counting the number of officials directly employed fails to give anyone a clear idea of the size of the EU machine. The real question is who is creating the work, what does it cost and who ultimately requires the work to be done?

    An example of the cost of the EU bureaucracy, the UK Regulatory Policy Commission (an independent body) examines the cost to business of changes in legislation originating in both the UK and the EU. For 2013 they estimate that the repeal of various UK legislation saved business £274m pa. New UK Legislation cost £128m, a net benefit to business of £150m. The cost of new EU legislation for 2013 alone amounted to an additional £1.3bn pa. EU legislation repealed saved £2.5m, so a net cost to business of £1.2975bn; hardly the evidence of a lean efficient body encouraging economic growth.

    Never forget many of the EU officials are extremely well paid both financially and with perks (a 70% final pay pension scheme after 35 yrs). The 16 grades of salary range from 2,654 – 18,370 euro per month, with 16% ex pat allowance (minimum of 505 epm), 171 epm household allowance, 626 epm for school aged children etc etc. Tax rates are usually lower than that paid by national employees (generally less than 25% tax for high earners as compared with 40% in the UK). Given this low rate of taxation EU officials in pay band AD 11, mid manager level, take home more per annum than the UK Prime Minister. (£83,000). Just ask yourself, if they were receiving salaries roughly equivalent to what they would get in their home countries why is competition for places so fierce ?

  • The EU administration: small and efficient

    27 June 2014  10:42, by Ana Paula Laissy

    I congratulate you for your informative article and for being brave to ’dare’ defend the European civil service. The work we do seems indeed ’invisible’ for all those who criticize us without even showing the inerest and cusiosity to learn a bit more about the European integration’s real benefits. I would just invite them to look back at the recent wars in the Balkans, the war in Ukaine (just to remain within the European borders)...The peace, the human and social development we collectively managed to achieve despite the ’crisis’ has no price and no comparison in any other part of the globe...

    NB. I suppose you mean 500 million European citizens and NOT 5 million!

  • Dear Britain

    26 June 2014  17:24, by Alex from Carlisle

    ’As a Frenchman living in London ...’

    London =/= Britain

    Britain =/= London

    Really, London in my opinion is the least English place in England and the least British place in the whole of the British Isles. Your observances are thus only really applicable to the London area.

    I’m from the north of England and I vote UKIP. I’m sick of the Londoncentric LibLabCon and the Metropolitan Middle Class elites and their globalist agenda; and like Tolkien and Orwell before me I’m a Little Englander and proud to be one.

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    21 June 2014  17:24, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    thank you for your straightforward and kind reply!

    Yes, I do agree with you – though mournfully - that under current circumstances Britain´s exit from the EU may be the only solution. It will be sad to part from “this precious stone set in the silver sea”. A Europe without Britain - that will be a rainbow with one of the bright household colours missing. A strong, united Europe including Britain would, of course, be more glorious than one without. However, that seems not to be on offer. Cameron-Britain leaves the Continent only with the choice between UK exit and an EU reduced to the confederate disunity irrelevance of, say, the Arab League or the CIS. - The choice should be “exit”, then.

    European nation-states have a uniquely long and proud past behind them, but no more future in front of them. Due to demographics, they no longer belong to the first rank of states and will soon find it difficult to hold on to Security Council seats or G7 membership. If they do not join forces NOW to meet the challenges from the US (NSA), Russia (Ukraine) or the emerging population-billionaires India and China, they will become the globe´s new banana republics – will become weak, pseudo-sovereign states, ruled and exploited by Non-European masters. Our freedom and heritage (both, shared values AND cultural diversity) can only be preserved by a politically united Europe.

    It is therefore vital that the present “intergovernmental” EU, which conflicts with democratic principle, turns every issue into an endless crisis and drives its citizens mad, is replaced by a parliamentary European Republic, which meets the demands of democracy, gets things done and inspires confidence. Whether such a republic extends to all the EU´s present 28 members, is, by contrast, only secondary: The 1956 Europe of the six founders, was really only a rump – but that rump was successful, made progress and proved irresistible to neighbours – among them sceptical Britain. The current EU of 28, by contrast, looks grand on the map, but is paralysed by internal squabbling and in danger of falling apart.

    Britain has already been granted numerous concessions – rebates, opt-outs - to accomodate her within the EU. But while these concessions already severely disfigure the EU´s architecture - e.g. the split between Eurozone and EU proper caused by the Sterling opt-out – they seem to have done nothing to reduce British hostility. At this juncture, Europe should therefore not contemplate any more concessions, but the simpler, stronger, more democratic EU, which UK exit would make possible: No more “no” to real parliamentary democracy or to common social, fiscal, defence and energy policies.

    Europe must show, what it can do – and if it succeeds, maybe even Britain will one day want to join it again.

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    10 June 2014  20:29, by Iwantout

    Alexander Peters,

    Article 17.7 of The Lisbon Treaty does not give the European Parliament the power to nominate the President of the Commission, this is specifically reserved to the heads of state (under QMV) who are required to take into account the results of the election. If the candidate nominated by the European Council is not elected by the Parliament then the Council shall nominate another within a month and so on.

    What has happened is that the Parliament is trying to usurp the powers of the Council by nominating their own candidate in direct contradiction to the Treaty.

    As has previously been noted none of the spitzenkandidaten ever campaigned in the UK, spoke to any UK voters or were endorsed by any main stream UK parties. Although in fairness Juncker was supported by the 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) and did achieve 28,014 votes (0.18% of the popular vote) and came twentieth.

    Subsequently Juncker been specifically rejected by the UK Labour Party (socialists) and by the pro EU Liberal Democrats, so to paint this as a Conservative issue and related to neo liberalism is just wrong, Juncker is not acceptable to any mainstream UK party, all of whom seem to believe that the law as set out in the Treaty should be complied with.

    We can argue about where the real democratic balance lies, between elected heads of state who had to campaign and meet real voters and spitzenkandidaten who did not. But I entirely agree with your sentiments in the penultimate paragraph, a British exit would indeed “be the legal divorce from a spouse, who has been living estranged for years”. In most respects the EU can never be acceptable to most of us other than as a “solely economic EFTA”, which as you rightly say is not what was originally intended. It is almost impossible to find anyone in the UK who supports the idea of a political EU as distinct from a trade body, and if the ultimate aim of the EU is to form a federal state through ever closer union (and I am sure we can all agree it is) then it is difficult in the extreme to see how a UK that has steadfastly refused to join so many aspects of the current EU and indeed is actively working under public pressure to repatriate powers can be part of the enterprise.

    Genuinely, I can understand how frustrating and annoying you must find us and believe it or not I am actually sorry. I do believe you should be able to follow your ideals where you have the support and we should not stop you, but after 40 year of membership the UK public are still not in love with the EU and there is no reason to believe they ever will be.

    In that case can we not agree that for all our sakes the prompt use of Article 50 TFEU is ultimately in the interests of all concerned? We rejoin EFTA and continue the trade relationship we both want within the EEA while you progress the political element of the EU.

    Cheers

  • Europe vs. USA: Whose Economy Wins?

    10 June 2014  16:40, by MUNIR KHORAKIWALA

    EXCELLENT OUTPUT & GREAT FEEDBACK

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    9 June 2014  22:24, by Alexander Peters

    CAMERON – THE CAVALIER CAUSE REVIVED

    Now it is official: British hostility to Europe is not driven by a concern for „democracy“. Democracy, Mr. Cameron was offered: For the first time in EU history the head of government – the President of the commission - was to assume office as leader of a majority in parliament, in very much the same way a British Prime Minister assumes office as leader of a majority in the House of Commons. - Surely, Mr. Cameron would welcome such adoption of British-style parliamentary democracy by Europe?

    No, this „democrat“ had a fit instead: The candidate supported by a majority of elected MEPs – Jean-Claude Juncker - becoming President of the commission?! Outrageous! Give the presidency to an unelected non-entity as hitherto, an angry Cameron told fellow leaders, or face UK withdrawal from the EU!

    This behaviour reveals the true nature of the British – of the Thatcher-Cameron-Farage – game. British Europhobes both attack the EU as undemocratic AND strive to keep it so, as their intention is is not to make the EU more democratic, but to destroy it. The prospect of a more democratic Europe is a threat to them, as such a Europe would rob their wrecking-campaign of its most effective propaganda-weapon. British Anti-Europeanism is not about democracy – it is about rabid nationalism.

    Furthermore, it is about stealthily promoting a neoliberal agenda for which – especially after Lehmann – there are no democratic majorities in Europe. Cameron and his media allies talk about the EU´s horrible lack of democracy and the necessity for „reform“ - but the reforms they promote are not about improving democracy, but about satisfying City of London greed. While employees` rights, financial market regulation and environmental standards for most Europeans are something desirable, they figure in Cameron´s world of distortion as instances of a Brussels „yoke“ we all yearn to throw of.

    Cameron wants to withold the democratic legitimacy and the social policy dimension from the EU, whithout which it cannot overcome its alienation from voters. On Juncker, therefore, the European Parliament must not give an inch to its foes. MEPs must not be afraid of a prolonged struggle: the longer this conflict lasts, the more it will rub in, WHO the true anti-democrats are. Nor must they be afraid of British exit: such exit would only be the legal divorce from a spouse, who has been living estranged for years. To Britain now no EU is acceptable, except one in the form of that solely economic EFTA, which the EU was never meant to be. Britain cannot be kept in the EU, unless the EU gives up the political ideal, which inspired it since its foundation in 1956, unless it ceases to be itself. That must not be.

    When, in 17th century England, Stuart Kings meddled with Parliament, Westminster MPs made political mincemeat of them. - Strasbourg MEPs should make the same of David Cameron.

  • A call to arms, JEF has a war to win

    6 June 2014  15:04, by IwantIn

    You’ve not really connected with this article very much. If you wanted a debate about statistics, it may be better commenting on a piece that’s happy to throw them out.

    Today is D-day, the memories of all that day represents are why the EU should continue to exist. People haven’t suddenly got nicer, they got better institutions.

    I imagine the EU is painfully aware that it doesn’t cover all of geographical Europe. If it did, Russia would not be able to sow disorder across Ukraine.

    All people have dreams, but the dream of a eurosceptic will only lead to (as proven by history), nightmares for other peoples.

  • Dear Britain

    3 June 2014  20:24, by Iwantout

    Dear Alexander Peters

    All societies proclaims that they offer freedom “from class divisions , poverty and reckless profit-making at the expense of the public.” It is not the idea it is the actions taken to deliver on such a utopian dream.

    The nations of the EU are not united in anything approaching a single demos. To pretend otherwise is either dishonest or naive.

    The degree of regulation in the EU is not in dispute. The Commission has estimated that the cost of regulation outweighs the advantages of the single market. (Gunter Verhuegen.) It is inefficient, stifling enterprise and new technologies. The EU is the only continent which is blocking the use of GMOs. This contributes to the poor economic performance of the EU and the EZ in particular.

    The UK devotes 23.9% of GDP to social spending (2011-12), less than France or Germany, but more than Switzerland or Australia. When the welfare state was founded the UK spent £11bn pa (in 2011-12 figures), it has increased under ALL parties stood at £200bn in 2011-12. Not the image of a state bent on removing all social care.

    We have large financial and service sectors but we also have a sizeable manufacturing sector, Germany ($1.167bn) UK ($580bn), France ($540bn) [All figures IMF]. Much of our traditional industry has gone, yes it went in the 1980’s under Thatcher, but the value of our output rose but in newer industries. Our experience however painful is that protecting a loss making industry indefinitely is not viable, an Anglo-Saxon perspective.

    The Spanish do have good infrastructure, more high speed railway than France and Germany combined and more international airports than Germany. It is a shame that so much of it is never used at capacity and will never be fully used. Funded by our EU contributions.

    Our debt rose from 44% (2008) to 90.6% today, a large proportion of this rise is due to bank bail outs, it will be at least partially recovered when the bank shares are sold, we may even make a profit. In the same time the eurozone went from 66.2% to 92.6% how much will you get back?

    With regards to the German Banks, I assume you are aware that 646bn euros were required for bail outs (EU Commission Figures), more than the US had to provide for all their banks. Also remember the requirement on smaller states to protect risky loans made by German banks e.g Ireland& Greece.

    But this is irrelevant, the UK has problems and so does every state in the EU. It is when you say “European unification” that you reveal the issue. This is not something that the UK population want or have ever wanted. Forget UKIP, both the Conservatives and Labour in the terms of EU politics are eurosceptic – no to the euro, no to more integration etc. UKIP, Labour and Conservatives got 12.1m votes, the pro EU LibDems (but even then no further integration) got 1m. Does that look like an electorate that want to be part of European unification ? Cheers

  • Ukraine crisis - killing Euroscepticism in Eastern Europe?

    3 June 2014  18:35, by Richard

    It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the European Union if it’s main attraction is simply being preferable to Russia. Poland, the Baltic and Eastern states were all notable by their lamentably low voter turnout numbers, espescially Poland (22.7%), the Czech Republic (19.5%) and Slovakia (13%). With the exception of Bulgaria scraping through by a mere 0.2%, none of these countries managed to convince more than 40% of their populations to vote in the EU elections.

  • Dear Britain

    29 May 2014  23:19, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    you imply that European societies have “little in common other than geographical proximity” and therefore lack a sound motive for “supranational” union. You also talk - disapprovingly - of “protectionest states which do not fundamentally accept free trade” and of European “over regulation”.

    Has it ever occurred to you, that a desire for a decent society free from class divisions, poverty and reckless profit-making at the expense of the public, might exactly be the kind of fundamental value binding together all European societies (or at least the “continental” ones)? Or, that small nations, which on their own lack the power to preserve such a society in this globalising world, have very good reasons for “supranationalism”? Or, that, given the recent “success” of “Anglo-Saxon” deregulation, Europeans, in sticking to their “over regulation”, just follow common sense?!

    Following neoliberal doctrine the British after 1979 sacrificed their welfare state and traditional industries. What for? The financial gains thus made were lost again during the financial crisis of 2008, when the heavy reliance on financial services created by Thatcher cost Britain´s economy dearly. After 35 years of Thatcherism the average British taxpayer is burdened as badly by public debt as is the average taxpayer of Euro-crisis victim Spain (debt as share of GDP, 2013, UK: 91,4%, Spain: 94,3%, Sweden: 41,5%; EU estimate). But while the average Spaniard at least got welfare and infrarstructure in return for this burden, the average Briton got nothing: he is just subsidising the life-style of reckless City bankers. Before 2008 Germany´s big banks - like you - always complained about the “over regulation” hampering their business; today everybody is happy that they have been prevented from harming Germany as much as British banks harmed Britain.

    As you invoke democracy so often: Commerce not subject to the control and legislation of elected government is truly undemocratic. But this is what a common market - “free trade” - without common politics means. Where exploitation of people or the environment is permitted, production will always be cheaper than where you cannot use child labour, endanger employees or pollute rivers. Insisting that domestic production meets certain standards, while not protecting it from the competition of cheaper imports not meeting them, is meaningless. Also has the common market without a common EU policy on taxation allowed corporations to minimise their tax payments contrary to the wishes of most European voters. Imposing an economic union on a politically disunited area, establishes a tyranny of the lousiest legal standards over a population in its majority abhoring them.

    You talk about “full control” about one´s “destiny”. Isn´t giving such control to Europeans now helplessly exposed to US, Russian and world market pressure exactly what European unification is about?

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    29 May 2014  16:36, by Iwantout

    So David Cameron and Viktor Orban (EPP) are behind this, and there I was thinking that Mark Rutte , Frederik Reinfeldt (EPP) and other leaders had cast doubts on the appointment of Jean Claude Juncker. But including the Netherlands and Sweden in the article makes the tirade even less credible. You also fail to mention that Angela Merkel (EPP) is less than committed to the Juncker cause.

    I will not comment on the political situation in Hungary other than to say that Orban’s secured 51.5% of the popular vote at these elections, far ahead of the other parties. I also remember that the EPP as a block voted against the Tavares Report so they were presumably content with Orban.

    In UK in the 2011 referendum concerning the possible adoption of the alternative vote style of election, 67.3% wanted to retain ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) system, 430 regions voting this way and only 10 to change. A decisive result I think we can agree. The Conservatives did indeed support the no campaign, Labour was neutral and the Lib Dems campaigned for a yes.

    As a direct result of this failure at the ballot box, the Lib Dems refused to support the recommendations of the Boundary Commission regarding redrawing constituency boundaries. The Boundary Commission is fully independent and goes through this process regularly to address many of the issues you raise. Because Labour currently benefit by 20 – 30 seats from the existing regime they also benefit on this occasion from resisting this redrafting. So, we have democratic reform being blocked by the pro EU party.

    Given this action by the sole pro EU party in the UK to prevent the FPTP system adjusting as it has many times in the past, the size of the majority in favour of FPTP and the fact that such a decision was taken so recently your description of our system as a monstrosity is actually more than a little offensive.

    None of the spitzenkandidaten campaigned in the UK at all, or met a single UK voter on the ground. They were not endorsed by a single main stream UK party so how do they claim any legitimacy in the UK? Cameron’s position is therefore in this context perfectly reasonable. I would also remind you that here he is seen as very much the Europhile.

    With closed party lists it is so difficult to decide who your MEP actually is. However in my region 60% of the MEPs are extremely anti EU I just hope they reflect the wishes of their voters by actively obstructing any moves to further integration impacting on the UK.

    Finally a very great German said “Politics is the art of the possible”, the foisting of a fervently pro federalist on several countries who have unequivocally said NO will result in increased friction. In an EU of nation states, trying to impose an individual who is clearly unacceptable to many countries is a recipe for disaster. Until you have a clear mandate for a federal state from the people of every country this will always be the case.

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    29 May 2014  12:59, by Richard

    OK. First, it’s pretty obvious that the vast majority of voters did not enter the ballot box thinking about the European Commission. It’s wishful thinking to imagine that anyone but a handful of people went in saying to themselves “hmm, I must vote for the European People’s Party candidate - I want Mr Juncker as Commission President!”. In fact, we need to remember that these candidates were all selected by what is now an outgoing and obsolete Parliament.

    In the recent elections people didnt vote for Schulz, or Verhofstadt or Juncker. They voted for their MEP and that vote was very often based upon national priorities or simply a protest vote against a national party (or in the case of Germany, voting for Angela Merkel, who appeared on all of the election advertisements)

    Moreover, it is time to remove the rose-tinted glasses and see that the European institutions, including the Parliament, are just as prone to horse-trading and backroom deals as anywhere else; you only need to see how the European Parliament President is selected: basically, the two biggest parties have a cosy arrangement to parachute in one of their own and take turns at the job.

    When you think about it - it would be truly bizarre to claim that the candidates named (who are all federalists) in any way reflect a European demos. How could that reflect the vote seen in France or the UK, or in the abysmal turnouts in some countries - like Poland with 22% or Hungary with 13%! These candidates all want “more Europe”. The electorate obviously want anything but “more Europe”

    As to the British electoral system...that is a matter for the British. You don’t like it. Well, we do; the referendum towards the alternative system firmly rejected doing so. The UK has a very long record of a stable and effective democracy. Why change what works? As a UK citizen I often look upon election results in other countries with bewilderment, as various minority parties and outright eccentrics gain seats in Parliament even though no one would wish to have their parties actual govern. Elections are often followed by months of haggling, horse-trading and deals behind closed doors to form often precarious and unstable coalitions that become paralysed or collapse in moments of crisis.

    As to the House of Lords: it is an advisory chamber. The elected chamber, the Commons, always has the final say. However, there are advantages: the Lords comprises members of very long experience in dealing with the scrutiny of legislation. Moreover, the Lords do not constantly have to think about the next election. This means they can resist populist measures - their main function is to be able to tell the elected chamber “think again!”. They do not need to worry about being popular or unpopular.

  • European governments, citizens have voted – now respect their vote!

    28 May 2014  18:22, by Holyrood

    Thanks for the article. Just to point out that you have dramatically oversimplified the aftermath of the UK general election in May 2010 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010). As the results gave no party an outright majority, and in keeping with British constitutional tradition, the sitting Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown had the right to try to form a government. In fact, the Monarchy insisted on maintaining this protocol (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/may/11/labour-liberal-democrats-coalition-recriminations). The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats held coalition talks, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats held talks as well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_Kingdom_government_formation). Only when it became clear that he could not form a government did Gordon Brown resign as Prime Minister and advise the Queen to ask David Cameron to form one (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8675913.stm). Your claim, therefore, that the Queen invited David Cameron over Gordon Brown simply because the Conservatives had a plurality of seats is incorrect. This doesn’t affect your argument very much, but it’s nevertheless important to get the facts right.

  • European governments, citizens have voted – now respect their vote!

    27 May 2014  23:38, by Iwantout

    For the information of your readers, the spitzenkandidaten chose not to campaign in the UK. They did not make any effort to meet us or understand our views. Additionally none of them were supported by any of the UK parties. In other words it is really very difficult to see how they can claim any legitimacy at all in this country as prospective President of the Commission.

    Regardless, I sincerely hope that the individual finally selected is enthusiastic in his /her attempts to increase integration, much like Jean Claude Junker for example. It will do nothing other than increase levels of distrust of the EU and act as yet another push towards the exit for us with our own politicians no longer able to stand in the way of the will of the people.

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