Friday

20th Jan 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

Opinion

The 89ers and the battle against populism

It falls to the Europeans who were born around 1989 and grew up in a peaceful Europe to build a fresh new vision for the EU that transcends the ideological, educational and national cleavages of the past.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Hollande thinking of EU council bid
  2. Italy to hold 70% of Monte dei Paschi bank
  3. Nato hit by 500 cyberattacks every month
  4. Hundreds of migrants face German security review
  5. Outgoing US vice-president warns Europe on Russia
  6. German far-right party calls for end to WWII guilt
  7. First Chinese freight train arrives in Europe
  8. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'