A Steady Retreat From Democracy And A Growing Involvement In The European Union

2312 words - 9 pages

A Steady Retreat from Democracy and a Growing Involvement in the European Union

Heywood (2002) defines the ‘European idea’ as the belief that Europe
‘constitutes a single political community’ with shared objectives and
difficulties despite its historical, linguistic and cultural
differences. In the 20th century the European community essentially
concerned itself with defence, peace keeping, and economic progress
partly in response to the devastation caused by the Second World War.
However, the European Union is increasingly focusing on more domestic
issues such as civil rights within the EU, environmental issues and
social policy. This expansion of the EU was symbolically displayed
with the introduction of the Euro, a single European Currency first
introduced in the 1st January 1999 (dti, 2005). This has become a
contentious issue within Westminster partly due to the economic risks
and partly due to the perceived democratic deficit surrounding control
of the Euro and all other European Union legislation. The debate over
Britain’s involvement also encapsulates whether there is actually any
benefit in being part of a supranational organisation, which needs to
be addressed in this essay. However, it is first essential to
investigate whether the EU is undemocratic and whether Britain will
become less democratic if it is fully subjected to a European
constitution. This essay will then analyse whether this would be a
worthwhile price to pay for involvement in the European Union.

The European Union constitution agreed On 18th June 2004 was signed as
an attempt to establish values and goals it was also a vital
opportunity to provide stability, protect freedoms and legitimise
governance of the EU. It is important to scrutinize the constitution
to establish if there is a democratic deficit within the composition
of European Union. Democracy implies rule by the people, in this case
that means the citizens of the EU, the constitution explains that
‘Citizens are directly represented at Union Level in the European
Parliament’ (euabc, 2004). In practice this means every five years
citizens elect MEPs to represent their interests in the European
Parliament. The relationship between the MEPs, the citizens and the
electoral process needs to be examined. Firstly voter apathy is
stronger in EU elections than national elections; from 1979 to 1999
turnout has averaged at 20% across EU member states (Bromley, 2001).
Before the 2004 elections The UK office of the EU released a study
which suggested they were expecting a 18% turnout (EU law, 2004) which
appears to be accepting of poor participation. Possible reasons for
this were distrust of politicians, a lack of compelling choice
(Kitkat, 2004) and insufficient education through publicity; this
basically means people didn’t know who to vote for and...

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