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Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?
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26.05.2015
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In the EU more than 500 million people in 28 countries have the right to vote in the European elections. Arguably this is an historic and unparalleled exercise in democracy. But how democratic is the EU?

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Join us for a lively debate with:
Luzi Stamm, vice-president of the SVP
Martin Naef, SP
Charlotte Sieber-Gasser, University of Bern
Bruno Waterfield, EU correspondent for The Times
Chaired by David Bowden, Institute of Ideas.

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  #21  
Old 02.05.2015, 21:36
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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What does that mean? Isn't democracy a process? Couldn't an entity apply democracy for some issues, but not for some other issues? So at which threshold is an entity considered democratic or undemocratic?
Not easy,, is it. From the Swiss point of view, for instance, the UK First Past the Post system seems totally undemocratic- as your vote, depending on where you live, is just thrown in the bin- and where a Prime Minister can be elected with a very small proportion of the vote.
  #22  
Old 03.05.2015, 01:10
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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How can you put "EU" and "Democracy" in the same sentence?
Looking at the Brits pathetic groveling over the "Royal Baby" and upholding a system which gives this newborn automatic entitlement to inherit the right to grant/reject a Government, I'll take EU style democracy over Britain anyday.
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Old 04.05.2015, 11:36
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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In that case could you gives a couple of examples????
Off the top of my head, Greek finance crisis. Enforcing austerity packages. Debilitating immigration policies. Swiss Einwanderung Initiative. And countless of other domestic trade issues. The Troika enforces its decisions on member states, yet nobody elected the Troika.
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Old 04.05.2015, 12:03
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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Off the top of my head, Greek finance crisis. Enforcing austerity packages. Debilitating immigration policies. Swiss Einwanderung Initiative. And countless of other domestic trade issues. The Troika enforces its decisions on member states, yet nobody elected the Troika.
Greek Finance Crisis - The EU defended itself against the irresponsible spending of one of its members. It is akin to a parent demanding that a child do extra chores, in return for extra pocket money which the child needs to go on a school trip (money which was previously available, but which was spent on sweets instead). It wasn't undemocratic - It was the democratic will (and in the best interests) of the rest of Europe. It wasn't pleasant for greece, but im afraid it was necessary to maintain the integrity of Europe.

Debilitating immigration policies - the EU sets no immigration policies. Countries are free to apply their own social security standards. The only the thing the EU brought is freedom of movement, something that has worked to the advantage of every country it has applied to, and which was accepted by every country as a pre-requisite of membership. Every country in the EU agreed to the freedom of movement criteria, so its too late to throw toys out of prams now, and moan about it. If you wanted restricted freedom of movement, you should not have joined. Its that simple.

Swiss Einwandering initiative. Switzerland signed a bilateral agreement. Switzerland benefited vastly from that agreement. Switzerland now wants to change that agreement, to the detriment of the EU, in a way they agreed they wouldn't. If Switzerland wanted to have such initiatives pass without issue, they should not have signed said agreement, and should have foregone the advantages it brought. Its that simple.

The EU has actually protected domestic trade and the quality of products (case in point: olive oil). It has helped domestic producers, but has hurt those consumers who seek to buy the lowest quality/lowest cost goods. Not a bad thing, IMHO.

The point is that in each of these cases you refer to, the EU may not have acted in the way you wanted it to, and its easy to call it undemocratic because of that. But the fact is, the EU does not act in your interests, or those who share your viewpoint. It acts in the overall interest of 500,000,000 people, and must do what is the best thing for as many of those people as possible, even if it means a small proportion of those people will be pissed off because of it.

Which troika are you referring to?

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Old 04.05.2015, 12:19
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

The Troika referred to in this context is the IMF, EU and ECB. Those decisions are made without oversight and validation of mandate, and is not validly the "democratic will" of the EU. The EU suffers from a democracy credibility gap that is well acknowledged. Those are examples where they have trumped democracy through autocracy.
  #26  
Old 04.05.2015, 12:20
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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Looking at the Brits pathetic groveling over the "Royal Baby" and upholding a system which gives this newborn automatic entitlement to inherit the right to grant/reject a Government, I'll take EU style democracy over Britain anyday.
The monarch has very occasionally the duty to choose someone who will form a government, but only does so on the advice, in the same way that s/he is "advised" to offer the PM's job to the person heading the party that's just got elected.

But in fact s/he only has the right to do any of the above as long as s/he doesn't go against the given "advice". In other words, the monarch doesn't have any rights in practice to make their own choice.

Mine dew, I agree that the apparent fuss is a nonsense.
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Old 04.05.2015, 12:37
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

So I'd like to hear examples of how the EU has upheld democracy, if any.
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  #28  
Old 04.05.2015, 13:37
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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The Troika referred to in this context is the IMF, EU and ECB. Those decisions are made without oversight and validation of mandate, and is not validly the "democratic will" of the EU. The EU suffers from a democracy credibility gap that is well acknowledged. Those are examples where they have trumped democracy through autocracy.



Well, the IMF is an american institution, not a european one. There is plenty wrong with the IMF, but the EU cant do mush to force them to be more open and transparent. Considering the scale of the f***-up in greece, it was necassary to get outside finance to help solve the problem. The only alternative is for the member countries (including the non-euro countries) to vastly up their contributions.

The ECB is a different animal. Im not sure where you get the idea that their decisions are "made without oversight and validation of mandate, and is not validly the "democratic will" of the EU". This is...well, nonsense.

The bank is managed by its 6-person executive board. Each member is selected from a pool of people considered to have the required experience and knowledge, by every government. In other words, each head of state approves the selection of the EB, which comes to them in the form of a recommendation from the European Council. The EC only provides this list to the heads of states, after it has run it through both the European parliament (where the democratically elected, MEPs sit) and the Governing Council of the ECB.

The governing council (the guys who actually have oversight of the bank) is made of the governors of the 19 central banks of the Eurozone. Every Euro country has a say, which is pretty democratic. The governers are selected by the head of state of each country in question, which seems pretty fair.

The bank is also required to report annually its activites to the European Parliament, the European Comission, and the Council of the EU. Not sure why you think they dont report to anyone.

Considering the bank is supporting 500 million people, it is quite democratic.
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Old 04.05.2015, 13:43
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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So I'd like to hear examples of how the EU has upheld democracy, if any.
By democracy, you mean the will of the majority of the people?

The Greek debt crisis.

A greater number of the 500,000,000 people it acts for wanted it to have a tough stance on Greece. A small number wanted it to be easy on Greece.

The EU was tough on Greece. There you go, democracy in action.

Theres only one thing worse then not getting what you want, and that is getting exactly what you want.
  #30  
Old 04.05.2015, 14:01
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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A greater number of the 500,000,000 people it acts for wanted it to have a tough stance on Greece. A small number wanted it to be easy on Greece.
These policies were implemented by 500,000,000 people you say? And not a handful of bankers?

Tenuous relationship between the EU and democracy, in principle and practice. It only exists mainly in rhetoric.
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Old 04.05.2015, 14:03
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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These policies were implemented by 500,000,000 people you say? And not a handful of bankers?

Tenuous relationship between the EU and democracy, in principle and practice. It only exists mainly in rhetoric.
I take it all Americans agree with the "wars on terror" then? Talking about rhetoric...the irony.
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Old 04.05.2015, 14:19
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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..only exists mainly in rhetoric.
As it is and always has been anywhere else.

Moreover, even in a democratic system it seems far too often people wake up and accept their responsibility for their own voting - only after the mess has been done. Ie - the consequences of one sided respect of bilateral agreements.

Tbh, what is the value of democracy when people democratically vote on issues they most of the time do not understand nor want to, nor are willing to educate themselves on consequences.

Delegation of power, if the delegates are high quality and ensure high standards...why not. If somebody calls it undemocratic, might be just manipulative political rhetorics. Quality, yes. Whatever it is called.
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  #33  
Old 04.05.2015, 14:23
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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Well, the IMF is an american institution, not a european one. There is plenty wrong with the IMF, but the EU cant do mush to force them to be more open and transparent. Considering the scale of the f***-up in greece, it was necassary to get outside finance to help solve the problem. The only alternative is for the member countries (including the non-euro countries) to vastly up their contributions.

The ECB is a different animal. Im not sure where you get the idea that their decisions are "made without oversight and validation of mandate, and is not validly the "democratic will" of the EU". This is...well, nonsense.

The bank is managed by its 6-person executive board. Each member is selected from a pool of people considered to have the required experience and knowledge, by every government. In other words, each head of state approves the selection of the EB, which comes to them in the form of a recommendation from the European Council. The EC only provides this list to the heads of states, after it has run it through both the European parliament (where the democratically elected, MEPs sit) and the Governing Council of the ECB.

The governing council (the guys who actually have oversight of the bank) is made of the governors of the 19 central banks of the Eurozone. Every Euro country has a say, which is pretty democratic. The governers are selected by the head of state of each country in question, which seems pretty fair.

The bank is also required to report annually its activites to the European Parliament, the European Comission, and the Council of the EU. Not sure why you think they dont report to anyone.

Considering the bank is supporting 500 million people, it is quite democratic.
I would not describe the IMF as American.

It is linked to the UN, the Managing director is French and it is an organization of 188 countries.

Certainly one Director is the US with circa 400,000 votes out of the total 2.5 Million but there are plans to change this with more votes to the BRIC countries.
It is a democratic organisation that votes on IMF decisions, the US does have a veto over IMF decisions which means the US can stop things but cannot alone approve new things.
  #34  
Old 04.05.2015, 14:51
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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As it is and always has been anywhere else.

Moreover, even in a democratic system it seems far too often people wake up and accept their responsibility for their own voting - only after the mess has been done. Ie - the consequences of one sided respect of bilateral agreements.

Tbh, what is the value of democracy when people democratically vote on issues they most of the time do not understand nor want to, nor are willing to educate themselves on consequences.

Delegation of power, if the delegates are high quality and ensure high standards...why not. If somebody calls it undemocratic, might be just manipulative political rhetorics. Quality, yes. Whatever it is called.

Sentimentally, you can call the EU anything you want. You can call it "My Darling". But objectively speaking, you need to define what its role is in democracy. To help you out, the EU charter does have strong Human Rights and Liberal Democracy principles written into it. But on the idea of delegation of power - in Democracies, power is lent to representatives, but that power is given back to the electorate. In the EU, it appears to be given permanently, not matter who takes what seat on it, even if they weren't voted in. Its quasi democratic, yet quite susceptible to autocracy, which it has clearly demonstrated it is able and willing to do.

You can only see that the reason there is even such a debate as this, and other papers and articles written about it, is the the EU's role in democracy has a credibility gap and is in doubt.
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Old 04.05.2015, 15:32
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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Sentimentally, you can call the EU anything you want. You can call it "My Darling". But objectively speaking, you need to define what its role is in democracy. To help you out, the EU charter does have strong Human Rights and Liberal Democracy principles written into it. But on the idea of delegation of power - in Democracies, power is lent to representatives, but that power is given back to the electorate. In the EU, it appears to be given permanently, not matter who takes what seat on it, even if they weren't voted in. Its quasi democratic, yet quite susceptible to autocracy, which it has clearly demonstrated it is able and willing to do.

You can only see that the reason there is even such a debate as this, and other papers and articles written about it, is the the EU's role in democracy has a credibility gap and is in doubt.
Nobody in the EU has power permanently. Not even the ECB governors have permanent tenure - it is a revolving door, with no one tenure lasting more then one term. Every EU role is he same. God knows why you think anyone has permanent power anywhere. The only ones who have power for more then one term are either the heads of states, who are elected into their positions by their populace, or those who are elected into positions of influence, by those who are elected into power by the electorate (the EP).

As large, supranational unions go, it is one of the most, if not the most transparent and open, certainly more so then our 'friends' across the pond. no system which caters for 500,000,000 people is going to satisfy everybody, and you seem to be the minority that isn't (cant be?) satisfied.
  #36  
Old 04.05.2015, 15:45
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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Nobody in the EU has power permanently. Not even the ECB governors have permanent tenure - it is a revolving door, with no one tenure lasting more then one term. Every EU role is he same. God knows why you think anyone has permanent power anywhere. The only ones who have power for more then one term are either the heads of states, who are elected into their positions by their populace, or those who are elected into positions of influence, by those who are elected into power by the electorate (the EP).

As large, supranational unions go, it is one of the most, if not the most transparent and open, certainly more so then our 'friends' across the pond. no system which caters for 500,000,000 people is going to satisfy everybody, and you seem to be the minority that isn't (cant be?) satisfied.
I think you missed the point. A member state signs up to the EU no matter who is running it. The people who run the EU can change, but its not the choice of the member states. The only option for a member state is to opt out of the EU, and this is normally countered with a litany of economic threats.
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Old 04.05.2015, 16:56
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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I think you missed the point. A member state signs up to the EU no matter who is running it. The people who run the EU can change, but its not the choice of the member states. The only option for a member state is to opt out of the EU, and this is normally countered with a litany of economic threats.
Not true.

A new member to the EU would immediately get one member on the Council of Ministers, as well as one representative on the European Court of Justice.

That countries head of state is also given a vote on the position of President, as well as being a representative on the European Council.

That countries populace also gets to vote on MEPs, who in turn are able to vote an all legislation, are able to vote on the membership of the European Comission as well as the President of the European Comission.

Member states sign up because they want to, not because the EU forces them to. The People who run the EU change frequently, based on the wishes of those invovled in the mechanism of the EU, and the member states absolutely have a say in this .

I dont see how said country would have no choice. Some of what you say is just baffling.
  #38  
Old 04.05.2015, 17:09
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

I think you can find plenty of examples of how the EU debilitates democracy, if you actually listen to what is said. That is what that debate is about. But if you don't listen to admit points made, then of course it would baffle you.
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Old 04.05.2015, 17:24
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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I'll be frank: I don't know how democratic is within all its institutions and mechanisms, decision making processes, but I personally see it as a historical chance for quite a few countries to rejoin the Western mainstream values. So yes, it is a guardian to democracy from this point of view.
What are these Western mainstream values?

Do non EU members such as Norway, Switzerland etc not partake in these values?

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These policies were implemented by 500,000,000 people you say? And not a handful of bankers?

Tenuous relationship between the EU and democracy, in principle and practice. It only exists mainly in rhetoric.
You mean there was a EU-wide referendum on what to do about Greece?
Or was there an EU election in which that was the predominant point of discussion?
Or were there people behind closed doors who decided to define the democratic will of the people, a bit like in North Korea?
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Old 04.05.2015, 17:59
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Re: Debate: Is the EU a threat to democracy or its guardian?

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As it is and always has been anywhere else.

Moreover, even in a democratic system it seems far too often people wake up and accept their responsibility for their own voting - only after the mess has been done. Ie - the consequences of one sided respect of bilateral agreements.

Tbh, what is the value of democracy when people democratically vote on issues they most of the time do not understand nor want to, nor are willing to educate themselves on consequences.

Delegation of power, if the delegates are high quality and ensure high standards...why not. If somebody calls it undemocratic, might be just manipulative political rhetorics. Quality, yes. Whatever it is called.
I think this would qualify for elitism, not democracy. Which may actually fit Europe, considering its longer history of it. Quite prominent thinking in communist politburos. But it certainly isn't a pro-Democracy sentiment. Perhaps in comparison to Eastern Europe, the EU is quite democratic indeed.

I'd still like to hear of how the EU has upheld democracy. Any examples?
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