European Integration

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I thought it might be worthwhile to put down a few thoughts about a major current topic throughout Europe: the future development of the European Union and the European Monetary Union in particular. Obviously each of the paragraphs below could be explored in much greater depth, especially the question of how effective modern representative democracy actually is.

What worries me most about the whole thing is the lack of effective democratic control. The European Parliament is directly elected, but it has little real power and its work gets little attention in the media. Major decisions are taken by the European Commission, which is a secretive unaccountable self-perpetuating oligarchy intent on centralising power under its own control. Others are taken by secret meetings of civil servants from the nations involved, again with no accountability. The Council of Ministers (which at least is indirectly elected) pays lip service to open government but in practice keeps most of its decision-making secret.

I am therefore opposed to any further integration of the affairs of the European Union until this democratic deficit has been met by, at the very least, ensuring that all decision making is conducted in public, that all major decisions are subject to debate by the public before they are taken, that all relevant papers and records are open to public scrutiny (without charge) and that all decisions are subject to debate and final approval (before implementation) by the European Parliament and/or national parliaments.

This really covers my objection to the monetary union as well, because in my opinion the one overwhelming objection to it, which is being ignored on all sides at present (except by the Green Party in UK), is the incorporation of an unaccountable independent central bank. I can see no justification whatever for taking out of the democratic process one of the major factors determining economic policy, and forcing everyone to accept a (once again discredited) conservative economic policy based on myths about how a national and global economy actually works. I say once again discredited, because the policy applied by most western nations at some time in recent years, and built into the constitution of the European Central Bank, is almost an exact repeat of that which failed so dismally in the depression years of the 1930's, and it has in most cases produced the same results of mass unemployment and poverty, with accompanying growing social unrest. An independent central bank in the form used in Germany and as proposed for the whole of Europe (i.e. mandated to control inflation, to the exclusion of other priorities) would build this policy in, beyond the control of elected politicians. The first time round this policy was a major factor in the rise of Hitler (who sensibly rejected it) and Mussolini. Do we really want a repeat performance? (It is perhaps instructive to note that extreme right-wing parties are rapidly gaining strength in most if not all of those countries now in the EMU.)

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