Letter: Fight for EU democracy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Congratulations on your front page report (20 August) on the lack of democracy in EU decision-making - though this comes as no surprise to British Labour MEPs. We have consistently campaigned for greater openness and transparency in the way European legislation is enacted and pressed successfully for the European Parliament's submission to the inter- governmental conference to include a demand for reforms on these lines.

In this objective we will have support from the new Nordic member states of Sweden and Finland, plus Denmark and the Netherlands, though we know there will be resistance from certain governments, especially those of Britain, France and Germany. These are countries whose governments and civil services are sadly inured in a tradition of secrecy. In this they are sometimes aided by European bureaucrats with a similar attitude of mind.

One vital step in achieving more openness is to ensure a greater and more integrated role for both European and national parliamentarians in approving all European legislation. As a first step, the European Parliament has initiated joint meetings of MEPs and national MPs serving on similar parliamentary committees. However, only with the support of all EU governments can this aim be fully realised and persuading them to agree will not be an easy task.

Our objective must be to ensure, at the very least, that policy decisions made jointly at the EU level should be as open to parliamentary debate and scrutiny, as well as to public awareness at an early stage, as we would expect to be the case for legislation adopted in our own country.

MICHAEL ELLIOTT MEP

(London West, Lab)

London W13

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