Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Opinion

A damaging blow to democracy

I am largely disillusioned with democracy - especially on a European level - so I believed that nothing could really shock me any more. But recently I was proven wrong by the European Parliament.

On 20 February the parliament approved the Lisbon Treaty – in itself an unsurprising move.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • "MEPs are damaging democracy" (Photo: EUobserver)

I had not expected a critical stance on the fact that they are about to ratify a document that is more or less the same as the EU Constitution, which was already rejected by the French and the Dutch voters.

But these are all minor democratic flaws compared with what happened that day in Strasbourg.

The basis of the debate was the so called "Corbett-de Vigo Report on the Lisbon Treaty", and there were amendments to this report, which had to be voted on before the whole treaty was put to a vote.

One of these amendments - Amendment No. 32 - asked that the European Parliament "undertake to respect the outcome of the referendum in Ireland."

In other words: Should the European Parliament respect the result of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which is likely to be held in June 2008?

This amendment was rejected by 499 MEPs. Only 129 voted in favour of this motion and 33 abstained.

As the whole procedure was a roll-call vote, it is easy how individual MEPs voted on this amendment. What strikes me most is the fact, that even an Irish MEP - Proinsias de Rossa - voted not to respect the referendum held by his fellow Irishmen.

This is in effect to tell the Irish people that the European Parliament does not care what they say on the Lisbon Treaty - a further step in the decline of a democratic culture in the European Union, if it ever existed at all.

After the final vote on the Lisbon Treaty the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, delivered a text-book example of hypocrisy. He said after the self-congratulating applause by the parliamentarians:

"A vast majority of you have voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. This is an expression of the free will of the peoples you represent. I'd like to congratulate you on this convincing result. This European Parliament represents the people of Europe, this treaty gives the European Union the ability to function properly and this treaty gives it more democracy. And we defend the common values of Europe and" – referring to a few protesting MEPs - "we shall never allow loud noise to override sensible arguments."

In the context of the incident this quote to me sounds like pure sarcasm.

In their quest to ratify this treaty at any cost, a majority of MEPs lost any respect for democracy and the people they ought to represent.

They are using their mandate which was given to them by democratic means to seriously damage democracy.

The author is the coordinator of the European Referendum Campaign

Column / Brexit Briefing

May's drive for one-party Brexit state

Snap election will kill off attempts to reopen debate on second referendum and inflict further damaged on confused opposition.

Orban’s unpatriotic attack on CEU

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, wants to see the closure of Central European University with recent legislative changes. But his actions are truly difficult to justify when thinking as a patriot.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May's drive for one-party Brexit state

Snap election will kill off attempts to reopen debate on second referendum and inflict further damaged on confused opposition.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  2. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  3. European states still top media freedom list
  4. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  5. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  6. Orban set to face down EU threats
  7. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU
  8. Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie