By Daniel Hannan | Daily Mail
Over 13 years as an MEP, Daniel Hannan has witnessed first hand how Brussels works.
Now he has written a forensic analysis of why it’s rotten to the core. His devastating critique should be required reading for every politician.
There is a popular joke in Brussels that if the European Union were a country applying to join itself, it would be rejected on the grounds of being undemocratic.
It’s absolutely true – and, believe me, it isn’t funny. Or, if it is, then the laugh is on you and me.
Democracy is not simply a periodic right to mark a cross on a ballot paper.
A protester places a EU flag on a bonfire during a riot outside the European Council hall in Gothenburg Sweden
It also depends upon a relationship between government and governed, on a sense of common affinity and allegiance.
It requires what the political philosophers of Ancient Greece called a ‘demos’, a unit with which we the people can identify.
Take away the demos and you are left only with the ‘kratos’ – a state that must compel by force of law what it cannot ask in the name of patriotism.
In the absence of a demos, governments are even likelier than usual to purchase votes through public works schemes and sinecures.
Lacking any natural loyalty, they have to buy the support of their electorates.
And that is precisely what is happening in the EU.
One way to think of the EU is as a massive vehicle for the redistribution of wealth – though not in a way that many of us would consider fair or beneficial.
Taxpayers in all the states contribute money to Brussels through their national taxes.
The bureaucrats then use this huge revenue to purchase the allegiance of consultants, contractors, big landowners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), corporations, charities and municipalities. In other words, all the articulate and powerful groups they rely on to keep themselves in employment.
Unsurprisingly, the people running the EU have little time for the concept of representative government.
The (unelected) President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, argues that nation states are dangerous precisely because they are excessively democratic.
‘Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong,’ he claims, without a hint of irony.
French riots: Firemen in Amiens yesterday examine a car torched by youths during a night of violence
The plain fact is that the EU is contemptuous of public opinion — not by some oversight, but as an inevitable consequence of its supra-national nature.
The EU is run, extraordinarily, by a body that combines legislative and executive power. The European Commission is not only the EU’s ‘government’, it is also the only body that can propose legislation in most fields of policy.
Such a concentration of power is itself objectionable enough. But what is even more terrifying is that the 27 Commissioners are unelected. Many supporters of the EU acknowledge this flaw — the ‘democratic deficit’, as they call it — and vaguely admit that something ought to be done about it.
But the democratic deficit isn’t an accidental design flaw: it is intrinsic to the whole project.
The EU’s founding fathers had mixed feelings about democracy — especially the populist strain that came into vogue between the two World Wars. In their minds, too much democracy was associated with demagoguery and fascism.
They prided themselves on creating a model where supreme power would be in the hands of ‘experts’ — disinterested technocrats immune to the ballot box.
They understood very well that their audacious scheme to merge Europe’s ancient kingdoms and republics into a single state would never succeed if each successive transfer of power from the national capitals to Brussels had to be approved by the voters.
They were unapologetic about designing a system in which public opinion would come second to deals stuck by a bureau of wise men.The EU’s diffidence about representative government continues to this day.
When referendums go the ‘wrong’ way, Eurocrats simply swat the results aside.