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The Future of European Union Political Parties

holding Member States governments properly to account. How should EU decision-makers be held to account when they are not acting under ‘Community law’ but through looser forms of inter-governmental cooperation? Foreign and security policy is a case in point. More can surely be done to strengthen the role of national parliaments in scrutinising the policies and voting positions of their governments within the Council. But at present, there is a worrying grey area for democratic accountability where governments avoid effective scrutiny by both national parliaments and the European Parliament. Indeed, this failure of accountability may also be a problem in the new and rapidly growing field of European justice, policing and internal security policy. Member State cooperation and joint policies on the fight against terrorism, for example, have very significant implications for human rights and civil liberties. One possibility in these areas of hybrid responsibility shared by national and EU governance might be to give representatives of both national parliaments and the European Parliament real powers of invigilation and policy approval. The parliaments could be collectively and jointly empowered to amend or reject policies advanced by the Council of Ministers when they are acting outside the Community legal framework. Unfortunately no convincing models of how this could be done have yet emerged. Towards a European demos The existing provisions of the EU Treaties, including the Constitutional Treaty, do mark an important advance in the powers and role of the elected European Parliament. But if democratic politics at the European level is to become a reality, the elected European Parliament must be given eventual equality in terms of co-legislative powers with the Council of Ministers. It is also profoundly unhealthy that the European Parliament has an important voice

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in determining how EU revenue is spent, but no powers to raise revenue. The present system for financing Union policies is opaque, unbalanced and open to charges of foul play by Member States. However, the planned midterm review of the 2007–2013 financial perspectives due to be held in 2008/9 will provide the European political parties with an important opportunity to open a long overdue debate about European taxation and expenditure There is also a case for the direct election of the proposed President of the European Council. It partly depends on what exact functions are attached to this job. If it is primarily to better coordinate between Member States in the Council of Ministers, appointment might suffice. But if the post is seen as the constitutional head of the Union, a direct election would be essential. Whereas the election of the Commission President would be via the elections to the European Parliament, the election of the President of the Council/European Union could be direct. Sooner or later the two Presidencies should be merged (in much the way that the Constitutional Treaty rightly proposes to merge the functions of the High Representative for CFSP and the Commissioner for External Relations in the post of European Foreign Minister). At this point any attempt to appoint rather than elect such an ‘integrated’ EU President would become a democratic scandal. Of course the process of creating a true European demos will not be accomplished overnight. It will be objected that the public will not readily vote for candidates for the Commission Presidency even when they are attached to the lists of transnational European parties. There were similar fears before the introduction of elections for the Presidency of the United States when it was thought voters in one state would not elect a candidate from another state. They proved transient difficulties. It will take years—maybe decades—before a

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy  

European View_Transnational parties and european democracy

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