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Hopes and hurdles for the European project

My letter about the EU was the leader in today’s Guardian comments section:

Paul Mason relies on tired old cliches – and, bizarrely, his dislike of the Belgian police – to justify his claim that there is no democratic control over the European Union (G2, 19 October). He talks of “vast bureaucratic structures” and “the sheer size of EU directorates”, yet the whole European commission has around the same number of employees as Leeds city council. He says there should be a veto on whether Ukraine and Turkey should join the EU, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there is one — all current member countries would have to agree for them to join. He moans of the EU being too powerful, yet simultaneously bemoans that it hasn’t reached agreement on Ukraine or on Syrian refugees.

He claims that it has imposed austerity on Greece, but can’t be bothered to mention that Greece had half of its debts written off and no fewer than three large bailout loans from its eurozone partners. He claims real power sits with large corporations, but fails to see that the EU is the one way we have the clout to stand up to them. Most astonishingly of all, he says that individual citizens have only “two channels” to influence the EU: the British government and the European court. Has he never heard of the European parliament, directly elected by those very citizens? The existence of a directly-elected parliament makes the EU unique among all international structures — but for Paul Mason this is not even worth a mention.

The fact is that the adoption of European legislation requires the double approval both of the European parliament and of ministers from elected national governments in the council — hardly undemocratic. It would anyway be difficult to believe that 28 democracies would submit themselves to a “faceless superstate”, even for the 10-15% of laws that we do jointly at EU level.

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