Defending democracy in EU

Turning the European Union into a democratic federal state might be a better option than the current cumbersome negotiating bureaucracy run by national governments. This proposition is suggested for public discussion by the regional daily Aamulehti (4 October 2000).

The paper bases its proposition on Romano Prodi's speech in which the President of the Commission warned that the EU is in grave danger of fragmenting and losing what has made it strong if the role of the Commission is further undermined (see The Irish Times, 4 October 2000, Electronic Telegraph, 4 October 2000). Aamulehti sees Prodi's speech as an uncharacteristically visionary defence of democracy. The speech has been seen as a warning against large countries' attempts to take control of the EU (see Irish Independent, 4 October 2000).

Aamulehti writes that democracy can exist on many levels: locally, nationally and supranationally, i.e. union level. People's power is not guaranteed by nation states making the decisions, the paper adds.

"Of course a functioning democracy in Europe on the union level would demand more enthusiasm for European parliamentary elections. If this is achieved, one can with good reason claim that the Commission represents second degree people's power because it is accountable to the European Parliament.

"The representatives of member countries who as a council now use supreme power in the EU are often democratically accountable only in the third degree."

Aamulehti considers Prodi's statement helpful in many ways. The paper singles out his call for credibility. Unfortunately, Prodi's own credibility has suffered several times in the past year, the editorial points out.

The national daily Helsingin Sanomat (4 October 2000) quotes Finland's ambassador to the EU, Antti Satuli, saying that Finland agrees with Prodi in that the Union does not need new institutions. Satuli thinks that the future development of the EU must be based on existing structures.

"The interests of small member countries are best guaranteed by common rules", Satuli is quoted as saying.

See also:

From our archive:

"EU needs new philosophy to help enlargement"

11 August 2000

European security: Conflict of two doctrines

28 July 2000

Schröder: No exclusive clubs within EU

17 July 2000

Ireland & neutrality

21 June 2000

"EU hard core membership important for security"

31 May 2000

Prodi's competence questioned

24 March 2000

Citizens' rights emphasised as part of EU reform

26 October 1999

Changing EU voting rules would be undemocratic by Hannu Reime

October 1999

Power of big EU countries raises questions

October 1999

European federalism opposed by the Nordic left by Hannu Reime

December 1998


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