Over the last few years, the European democratic deficit has reached almost epic proportions. Nearly three-quarters of the British people believe their voice doesn’t count in the European Union, and 68% don’t trust it. At the last European election only 34% turned out to vote, and it’s unlikely to be much higher this year. We desperately need to close the gap between European affairs and the British people.
The Lords European Union Committee is clearly committed to doing just that. Today the committee has published a report which calls for an enhancement of the powers of national parliaments, so that the British people can hold the European Union to account through their own democratic structures. And we strongly welcome it
In a report on tackling Europe’s democratic deficit, due to be published next month, we will come out in favour of many of the measures suggested by the Lords EU Committee, including:
- A ‘green card’ procedure, whereby national parliaments can come together to ask for the creation of new legislation or the repeal of old legislation
- An increase in the amount of time allowed for national parliaments to give a ‘reasoned opinion’, from eight weeks to 12 weeks
- The European Commission committing to scrap legislation when over half of national parliaments have expressed doubts
More needs to be done, but the central plank of any strategy to bring down the democratic deficit is to empower national parliaments. We will be calling on both the UK Government and the European Commission to treat these proposals with the seriousness they deserve.