Thursday, 4 June 2009

European Voting

How many went to vote in the UK? I did this afternoon, as I value voting and I am pro-EU anyway and voted accordingly. The European Union will always be confederal, however integrated it may become, simply because sovereignty remains with the nation states and is shared by them and these nation states have long identities within themselves (some much longer than others). The counter of this, the Regions, is a European perspective, and economic and cultural, but will not replace the locations of sovereignty (where different) nor the locations of key established Parliaments and Assemblies but only additional and local decision making areas.

As a matter of practicality, law has to be EU centred, otherwise it would not work, but it is still the case that the Council of Ministers focuses national sovereignty and remains the crucible for key sensitive area decisions, and this selections of equivalent ministers are derived from national government executives (which is surely wrong - executives have to be accountable to parliaments). People talk about Brussels bureaucrats etc., but the Commission proposes legislation about which the Parliament can adopt a stance, or the European Parliament can ask the Commission to make a proposal; the Council of Ministers and in ordinary cases the European Parliament share co-decision rights (thus providing some check on executives that come together to make decisions) but on sensitive areas the European Parliament is limited to an advisory view.

So this makes the European Parliament important, but it is not federal. If it was federal then sovereignty would exist at European level, rather as it does in the United States at the level of the United States. Even then decision making should be heavily decentralised.

The trend is also to give more powers back into national and regional parliaments and assemblies, as would be the case with the Lisbon Treaty - decision making down as well as up.

Western Europe shares a great deal; and in an international capitalist economy and a world of large nation states and blocs, working with one's historic neighbours and friends in structures that interlock them politically (and ties economic interests together) seems to be progressive. There are issues about how broad this can stretch: countries inside must be both reliably democratic and liberal in terms of decision making and rights. It is why Turkey and some ex-Soviet Union countries are problematic, and problematic is too a high a risk until the credentials of stable liberal democracy are as secure as possible.

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