Letter: Undemocratic? Not the EU!

Anti-Brexit campaigners protesting in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Anti-Brexit campaigners protesting in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The EU has more democratic checks than any other international structure we belong to.

EU legislation requires approval both of those directly elected MEPs and of the Council, composed of national ministers accountable to national parliaments.

The EU's central administration, the Commission is headed by a team of Commissioners, each one nominated by the Prime Minister (or President) of their country. However, before taking office, they are each subject to a public hearing by the relevant committee of the European Parliament, at which they are cross-examined for three hours. Every time, some fail to pass this hurdle. Imagine if newly appointed ministers in our government were subject to a similar confirmation hearing: it would be revealing!

The President of the Commission is elected by the European Parliament on a proposal of the European Council. The proposal must reflect the outcome of the European parliamentary elections, and is made straight after them. This resembles the way in which, in our country, the Queen appoints a Prime Minister in function of the election results – but with the safeguard that there is actually an explicit vote.

Once in office, normally for the full five years between European parliament elections, the Commission remains accountable. Although not a very powerful body it can be dismissed by the Parliament in a vote of no-confidence at any moment. Commissioners regularly come before Parliament for questioning and debating, as they do before the ministers in the Council.


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And as to the Court of Justice of the EU, it does not adopt laws, but settles disputes referred to it on the meaning of the laws already adopted. In the words of its former British President, it does not take political decisions, but sometimes has to remind politicians of the decisions they have taken'.

Richard Corbett MEP,

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Labour Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire & Humber

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