In the EU Referendum fray, amidst claim and counter-claim, allegations of half-truths, dodgy dossiers, falsehoods and malicious obfuscation, a central plank of the Government’s ‘Project Fear’ is that we simply do not know what a post-Brexit UK would look like, ergo, better the devil you know. Vote to Remain, they say, for Leaving is an unknown unknown, and that’s just a bit scary.
But there is one certain known known: the EU was never designed to accommodate democracy, and its anti-democratic predilection will only fortify should the UK vote to remain. Such is the nature of the ever-federalising beast.
Take, for example, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which (we are told) “gives citizens the right to directly participate in setting the legislative agenda of the EU. Once a policy proposal is supported by the verified signatures of one million EU citizens, the European Commission is obliged to consider that proposal”. Yes, if your proposal can attract a million signatures, the European Commission is obliged to consider it.
This is a marvellous initiative: “Through our work we seek to promote the implementation of citizen participation and binding democratic instruments that give citizens a voice in European decision-making,” they write. This is EU democracy at its best; wresting legislative power from the self-flagellating European Commission and devolving power to the people, where it properly resides. For surely the Roman Catholic Church can muster a million faithful to agitate against euthanasia, abortion and embryo experimentation? Surely the Greens can gather a million agitators to foment against vivisection. Surely socialists can unite to oppose austerity and the corporatist scam known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? Surely EU-sceptics across the Continent can coalesce to bring an end to ‘ever closer union’ and the chimeric federation of European autarchy?
Well, no, not quite.
You see, the European Commission is only obliged to consider the people’s proposals if it agrees with them. It’s not so much EU democracy as EU despotism. A million signatures mean nothing when those million are misguided and dim. The Commission are the Philosopher kings; the Guardians of all that is good, noble and true in the realms of distributive justice, human rights and environmental protection. EU citizens do not make ‘Europe’; it is ‘Europe’ that makes them, for all things were made by it, and without it was not anything made that was made.
And so there are just three open initiatives – on marriage and the family, cannabis and plastics in the sea. There have been only three successful initiatives since the ECI was established in 2012 (and, curiously enough, they are all dated that year). But the list of refused initiatives is legion, principally because a proposed initiative cannot be “contrary to the EU values as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union“. The people can’t possibly be left to their own devices: they can have democracy, but only if the views they hold are EU-orthodox, and the opinions they express are of the right-on EU-friendly sort. EU democracy is conditional on meeting certain standards, and the European Commission may intervene in the interests of inculcating a notion of ‘right citizenship’.
So, if you want to ban EU funding of abortions across the world, forget it: it’s a human right. If you want to limit embryo experimentation, you can’t: it’s a scientific duty. If you want to end EU-wide recognition of same-sex marriage, you’re really quite stupid: it’s inviolable moral equality. And if you want to bring an end to Eurozone -‘economic governance’ and austerity.. well, basically, you don’t know what’s good for you or the community
Of course, a truly democratic ECI based on self-determination would be in danger of facilitating the rise of Euroscepticism, and we can’t be having that, can we?