The Democratic Deficit Is Dual In Nature

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The Democratic Deficit Is Dual In Nature Essay, Research Paper “The democratic deficit is dual in nature” Demos means people in Greek. Democracy was the name of a constitution in which the poor people exercised power in their own interest as against the interest of the rich and aristocratic. It is commonly accepted that democracy as it is defined by the Western world, is the most appropriate way of organising a society. Democracy as an ideal in the twentieth century has been taken for granted by European people. How can these citizens of Europe exercise their political rights in the ‘ever closer Union’? Democratic deficit is a new problem that the European Union has to face. The Belgian Prime Minister Leo Tindemans in his report to the European council first used this

expression in 1974. The problem is becoming even more accurate in the 1990s. As the steps of integration lead the member states to more and more commitment in the region, the peoples of Europe have a growing fear that this United Europe will undermine their national sovereignty. The democratic deficit of the European Union should be understood as a dual phenomenon, horizontally at the European level and vertically at the domestic level. First, it can be understood horizontally, where there are institutional problems at the European level. The lack of democracy at the European level results with deficits taking place at various institutional levels. The European Parliament is too weak, the Commission is not elected, and finally, the Council of Ministers and European Council are

not properly controlled and accountable. When thinking of democratic deficit at the European level, one certainly comes across the weaknesses of the EP, although it is the only institution that enjoys legitimacy, as it is the only directly elected body within the EU. Although it has been elected directly since 1976, its power is the weakest of all EU institutions. Unlike a traditional parliament in a representative system, the EP has not the right to propose bills, enact laws or raise revenue. The EP has certainly increased its power over the years, in the 1984 Draft EU Treaty it obtained co-operation procedure with the Council. Since the Maastricht Treaty, it has the power if co-decision in ten policy areas. But it is only a negative power to block proposals in its entirety.

Moreover, its new joint power over budget with the Council of Ministers is limited to non-compulsory expenditure. As Dinan argues, ‘The EP may have acquired some budgetary authority, but as long as the budget remains relatively insignificant and the Parliament cannot raise any revenue its power will remain correspondingly weak’1. The continuing demand for increasing power of the EP has lead to greater rights in amending laws and checking the activities of the other institutions. While the EP has the formal right to dismiss the entire Commission through a vote of censure with two-thirds majority, it is not a stable solution. It would lead to a “eurocrisis” which can destabilise the already fragile system of the EU. However, strengthening the EP would probably not be the

best solution in order to democratise the EU. We can wonder just how efficient this institution really is? The EP is often described as a kind of monthly road show2, for MEP’s have to travel constantly between Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg. In this condition, these “nomads” can hardly be efficient in dealing with major issues of the union. About 15% of its budget are actually spent on moving expenses. But most importantly, the relationship between the MEP’s and the domestic electorates and parties is problematic. The participation in EU elections is relatively low in most European countries. Overall, domestic issues dominate Euro-elections more than European issues do. The electorates are hardly aware of the EU parties position. The legitimacy comes from the people,