Home > Ireland for Europe > Worried about the democratic deficit? Vote Yes

Worried about the democratic deficit? Vote Yes

Published on the Ireland for Europe blog

We hear a lot from those on the No side at every European referendum about the problem of the democratic deficit, meaning that decisions are made without reference to the people and without a sense of accountability. This is true to a certain extent in all democracies with policy formulated to a large extent by the permanent government of civil servants.

But they have a point. Since 1957, as it grew from six to 27 countries, it is unsurprising that this has become a concern. So the Lisbon Treaty addresses this.

Even at the moment nothing from the EU becomes law without the approval of those who are accountable to the people. The Commission, whose members are appointed by the governments, proposes legislation. The Parliament, elected every five years, reviews legislation. Then the Council of Ministers, made up of the ministers across the EU, finally agree that a provision can be made law. For example, if the Council is discussing the environment, John Gormley is there with other environment ministers.

Power to the Dáil and Seanad

Under the Lisbon Treaty, after the Commission proposes legislation, national parliaments of the union have powers of review. If 1/3 parliaments object, the Commission will have to review their proposal; if 1/2 of parliaments object, then can veto it before it goes any further.

National Parliaments may send to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission a reasoned opinion on whether a draft legislative act complies with the principle of subsidiarity, in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the European Union
Title I
Article 3

Power to the European Parliament

Then, instead of the European Parliament having only a consultative role, it will have an equal role with the Council of Ministers making law.

In future, the European Parliament will have powers equal to the Council of Ministers in many areas. Even regarding agricultural policy, which accounts for almost 40% of the EU budget, the European Parliament will be able to participate in the decision-making process. Furthermore, the EP will have a say concerning all aspects of the EU budget.

Jo Leinen
German Socialist MEP

So our elected representatives, both in the Oireachtas and in the European Parliament will have a significantly increased voice in the process of EU law if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.

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