Letter: Europe wins

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Properly understood, this week's events are a success story for the European Union.

In all new institutions those who hold power have to learn the hard way that they can be held to account. The only body competent to do so is an elected assembly whose authority is coterminous with the area of the executive it is attempting to control.

All parliaments take time to get used to using their powers. It took the Westminster Parliament at least a century to develop the type of authority we have seen this week. The European Parliament has only been directly elected for 20 years; that is a good rate of progress.

Last weekend I was listening to one of our Liberal Democrat European candidates (in a position on the list from which even a candidate does not expect to get elected) telling me she was determined not to contest a winnable Westminster seat because she would rather go to Strasbourg. That is the way the future lies.

Earl RUSSELL

House of Lords

London SW1

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