Letter: Democracy in a confederal Europe

Share
Democracy in a confederal Europe

Sir: Your leading article has to be welcomed, given the current Europhobia emanating from most of the British press. It should also be welcomed because it breaks through the sterile choice between "Europe as free-trade area" and "Federal Europe". I have never believed that the federal models of the US or Germany could simply be transplanted to the complex collection of differing languages, histories and political systems that make up today's European Union. Nor can Europe simply be a free-trade area loosely governed by a European version of the World Trade Organisation. The European Union is a unique body. Your essay recognises this point.

However, I would like to address two points.

You argue for the democratic renewal of the EU by redefining the powers of the European Commission (which I welcome), strengthening the role of the Council and freezing the influence of the European Parliament. However, this would not achieve the democratic renewal you seek. Unless all national parliaments have the same powers to scrutinise and control their ministers' actions in Council (which they clearly do not) then centralising decision-making in the Council will only make it even more of an unaccountable body than it already is. Similarly, national parliaments will, quite rightly, only judge the actions of their ministers in the context of domestic politics. Instead, the powers of the European Parliament, as the only body capable of holding the Council accountable at a European level and the only body democratically elected at a European level, should be increased.

Second, you argue that social policy should not be a core function of the EU. But just as Britain is bound to Europe historically, culturally and economically, so is she bound by the common experiences of the labour and trade-union movements. Out of these arose a unique social model in the form of the welfare state and social partnership that has allowed Western European societies to enjoy unparalleled wealth and social cohesion. Now all European societies are experiencing the same threats to this social model. Instead of divesting the European Union of its powers in the social field, we should be using the common experience to find common solutions for a new form of welfare politics in the 21st century.

I hope your essay has signalled the first step in the fight back for rational debate and argument over the politics of European union.

NICHOLAS CROOK

Brussels

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne likes to think of himself as the greatest political mind of his generation  

Budget 2015: It takes a lot of hard work to be as lucky as George Osborne

John Rentoul
George Osborne will deliver his emergency Budget on July 8th  

Budget 2015: We gave the Tories a mandate, now we will see what we voted for

Hamish McRae
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test