Thursday

23rd Nov 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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

Eastern partners, eastern problems

The EU must hold out the olive branch of possible membership in the distant future - but the current domestic problems in the ex-Soviet states, let alone their links to Russia make more than that difficult.

EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit

The EU is throwing a lot of money at Sudan to manage migration from the Horn of Africa to Europe - but the upcoming Africa Union-EU summit is a chance to probe Sudan about its own human rights record.

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  2. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  3. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  4. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  5. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  6. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  7. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  8. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  2. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  3. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  4. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  5. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  6. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  8. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  9. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  11. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  12. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children

Latest News

  1. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  2. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  3. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  4. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  5. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  6. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  7. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  8. Commission warns Italy over high debt level