Many European citizen complain about the so-called “democratic deficit” within the EU, but what does this actually mean and how can we handle this problem?
The European Parliament (EP) is the only supranational institution whose politicians are directly elected every five years. The Parliament is composed of 751 members, who represent the second-largest democratic electorate in the world and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. In the last decades, especial after the Lisbon treaty, the EP gained more power. This means, that the EP in now part of the legislative process (ordinary legislative procedure) together with the Commission and the Council. Furthermore, EU citizen have the right to join the political debate when using the European Citizen’s initiative, which aimed at increasing direct democracy.
However, many citizens still don’t feel a number of European institutions actions. They are scared that their worries are not heard in the bubble of Brussels. So, what can be done to target that institutional crisis?
First, transparency is needed to increase the EU’s efficiency and credibility. It must be easier to understand the EU’s working process. This also means that a lobby register is finally needed to make EU’s decision making more transparent.
Second, Brussels should decentralize some of the decision making since member states are closer to the everyday life of people. The EU should always respect results of democratic elections, even these means that the decision-making processes can take longer. A good example is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a free-trade agreement between Canada, the European Union and its Member States. All 28 European Union member states approved the final text of CETA for signature, with Belgium being the final country to give its approval. Even in that case Belgium finally supported that agreement, democratic decisions must always be accepted by the EU.
Third, the European Parliament needs to receive the power for legislative initiative, what currently alone the Commission has. Since only the Parliament is directly elected by the EU’s citizen, it is not acceptable that it has not this significant right.
Finally, it can be seen that the latest treaties decreased the EU’s democratic deficit with shifting more power to the Parliament or the implementation of the European Citizen’s initiative. However, it needs to be pointed out that it is still a long way to completely end the democratic deficit.
Events like “Europe Together” are a good way to involve more citizens in this political debate and it makes the EU more attractive for the youth. I would be very delighted to support this S&D vision in October 2017 and hope that it will be a great event for all participants.