This article was first published on Comment Central.
There’s a long-standing pro-EU myth: the EU is only unpopular because of unfair media coverage. But blaming the media for the increasing distrust of the EU won’t wash. After all, governments are heavily scrutinised by the press in all functioning democracies.
The problem with the EU is its unelected, insulated leaders do not like scrutiny of their plans for a federal super-state. Why? Because their actions do not stand up to scrutiny.
Enough excuses – the EU’s problems are the EU’s fault – nobody else’s.
Failing to see the EU’s flaws, they decide to attack the media rather than their own institutional failings. They claim the EU is a ‘whipping boy’ and is unfairly talked down.
But why is the EU a whipping boy and being talked down? Is it a random decision made by media moguls to sell papers? Absolutely not; it is a legitimate response to policies being proposed in an electoral vacuum.
EU laws are proposed by an unelected EU Commission, which acts as the EU’s government. The elected arm – the European Parliament – then votes to approve the legislation. Unfortunately, due to its distant nature, only EU political obsessives have any idea who their MEPs even are, never mind which way they vote. Additionally, the UK is underrepresented in relation to the number of MEPs it has, when compared to nations with smaller populations. Lastly, ministers from each Member State have the final say on whether the law is adopted.
Some argue, the fact ministers have the final say on the implementation of the law, gives the legislation democratic legitimacy. But this is incorrect for two reasons. First, the minister approves the law rather than domestic parliaments. This makes oversight and accountability to the home electorate impossible. Second, and more importantly, the vast majority of EU laws do not require unanimity, therefore, the minister can vote against an EU law and the law is implemented domestically regardless.
This is why, hypothetically, the UK’s EU Commissioner, Sir Julian King, all the UK’s MEPs, the UK Government and in fact every single person in the UK could oppose an EU law, and the law would still be implemented here and in all EU Member States. In this situation, who can the British people hold to account for the new law? Where is the democratic legitimacy? Nowhere to be seen!
It is on this platform of democratic illegitimacy the EU’s woes flow from. This allowed Vote Leave to run the successful EU Referendum campaign on the slogan ‘Take Back Control’, which summed up its fundamental problem. The message clearly got through to the public, with ‘sovereignty’ being the most popular reason for ‘Leave’ voters supporting Brexit.
These democratic failures and the range of policy disasters – from butter mountains to bendy bananas – is however, considered too much for the EU to deal with, despite media coverage of its institutions being skin deep at best. The EU objects to this on the grounds of it being unfair, when it is the exact opposite.
If the EU wants to govern hundreds of millions of people in a federal superstate, then it’s not just acceptable – but necessary for it to be properly scrutinised. Crying foul over negative media coverage, simply shows the EU’s utter contempt for transparency, democracy and the people of Europe. We are about to Get Britain Out of the EU, and if the bloc wishes to prevent more exits across Europe, it must adapt and embrace genuine scrutiny of its crumbling institutions.