Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reform Treaty

I am not certain that I support the idea of referendums to ratify the EU Reform Treaty. Constitutional treaties, and the Reform Treaty is constitutional treaty as it amends the EC and EU treaties that make up the EU Constitution, should principally be approved by the electorate. However, former French President and Chairman of the Constitutional Convention, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, is absolutely correct when he argues that in referendums people vote on other issues instead of on the actual referendum question (see here).

I am supportive of the Reform Treaty, as I was of the Constitutional treaty, for three reasons:

1) Double majority voting in the Council.
2) Increased power of the European Parliament, through the increased use of the Joint Decision Procedure.
3) Incorporation of the European Charter for Human Rights as legally binding.

These measures are essential in correcting the so called 'democratic deficit' of the EU. First, by ensuring that there is a better balance between the Council and the directly elected Parliament, and secondly, by ensuring a democratic balance of power within the Council.

Other steps are needed to increase the democratic legitimacy of the EU, such as making the Commission democratically accountable through either direct election or parliamentarianism. However, these reforms are what is on offer now and the national parliaments and European electorate should embrace them. The problem is that national debates, in connection referemdums, concentrate on such things as pints and banana's, federalism and corrupt bureaucrats, and not democratic reform.


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