• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Is a steady retreat from democracy a

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Is a steady retreat from democracy a necessary price to be paid for 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. ...read more.

Middle

As the 'decision-making' (Heywood 2001) branch of the EU The Council of Ministers are responsible for initiating the process of turning the guidance of the EC into specific proposed policies and laws, however they are appointed rather than elected; held accountable through 'their own assemblies and governments' (Heywood 2001) and therefore not directly by the citizens of the EU. Pollack (2003) states that this is not the only legitimacy crisis within the EU as the method used to reach decisions is qualified majority voting which means not all ministers have to agree which creates the prospect of legislation 'that runs counter to the interests of member state governments and their electorates' (Pollack, 2003). However, qualified majority voting does speed up legislation and member states are able to opt out of some laws such as the introduction of a Single European Currency. The EU does appear to have a separation of powers which invites pluralist debate and constrains the possibility of domination. However, it would perhaps be in the interest of the electorate if more decisions originated from the European Parliament because of the legitimacy the elections give. However the current position of the EP has improved although Dykes (2003) states this as being an 'evolutionary process' he recognises the inter-institutional conference in 1992 as raising the issues of democracy, transparency and conciliation. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in my opinion even with the constitution the EU is still flawed in its representation of the citizens of its member states. Poor electoral participation and the insufficient linkage between the electorate and the policy-making areas of the EU need to be addressed (Kitkat, 2004). The growing potency of the European Parliament clearly adds legitimacy to the EU; it is important that actions like these remain on the agenda, as it is possible discussions of democratic accountability will stagnate now the EU constitution has been signed. The European Union appears to have an elitist past which has conceded to change through the introduction of more member states and the expansion of the use of qualified majority voting which is more progressive that vetoing legislation (Bromley, 2001).. Evidently the political culture of the EU needs to change as much as its institutions and laws. I believe that a retreat from democracy is never an acceptable or necessary step for the benefit of being part of a supranational body. Particularly when so many improvements can be made, if the UK government feels the EU is undemocratic it is possible to highlight the democratic deficit that exists. It may be true that intergovernmental activity will be reduced in a more integrated Europe; however the loss of sovereign power is not necessarily the loss of democratic legitimacy as it is always possible for a connection between the electorate and state or supranational body. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level European Union section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level European Union essays

  1. A clear explanation of key underpinning economic theories relevant to the EU.

    *Firms throughout the UK can seek mergers and commercial agreements with other European businesses. By co-operating with businesses whose strengths are complementary, organisations can derive benefits. Alternatively, take-overs might be the means by which businesses increase their scale to cope with the European market.

  2. To What Extent Does the EU Display a 'Democratic Deficit'?

    For example in 1999 this almost happened when severe corruption charges were levelled at the Commission. However, the Commission resigned en masse before the intervention of the EP was needed. These powers have added a degree of accountability to the EU.

  1. The Institutional Consequences of Domestic Politics on Africa's International Relations and Regional Cooperation.

    On the issue of conflict prevention, Management and Resolution as an Organ of the Union, the members consider that the objectives and principles stipulated in the Cairo Declaration establishing, within the OAU, a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution constitute an integral part of the declared objectives and principles of the African Union.

  2. Transformation of the U.S. Hegemony in Europe through NATO after the Cold War

    stance regarding this initiative. According to U.S. officials, ESDI should have been built within NATO in order to avoid duplication. NATO was also guaranteeing the use of its assets in WEU-led operations. On the other hand, some EU members, led by France resisted to this redefinition process.

  1. This essay is intended to have an in-depth appraisal of the implication of the ...

    This has been the beauty of the treaties of the union which have been changing as the situations required. However with a constitution operated in an enlarged union, requiring unanimity to amend would be very difficult because arriving at a consensus decision by the various MS with diverse interest and expectation would be tough.

  2. The Institution of the European Union and Theories.

    *be ready to handle the consequences of UK entry *Boots customers as of the policy may be confused with the change over of the currency, pricing may thought to be suspicious as quoted in euro's and customers may be concerned that retailers are concealing prices.

  1. Free essay

    Has British Politics been Europeanised

    The third influence to consider is regional and environmental policies. This is whereby the EU is very much involved in domestic policy making. The European Union is the fundamental source of funding when it comes to subsidising poorer regions. Environmental policy is one of the most significant policies made for EU regulations.

  2. Is there a democratic deficit in the EU? What are its implications and how ...

    Furthermore the E.P. does not have the same expertise as the Commission and scrutiny is relatively weak. It's only other power is to ratify the budget which it always does despite concerns by the ECA. Another undemocratic point to make about the European Parliament is that despite being elected, most

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work