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Democracy in the European Union. Which deficit? Accountability

S&D live

Intervento alla S&D Conference “School of Democracy” organizzata da Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament.
Reggio Emilia, 23 aprile 2015

The European Parliament elected by the voters in all member- States does not have any democratic deficit. By definition, the Council made by the heads of governments of all member States is democratically legitimate. The heads of all European governments retain their office as long as they have the confidence of their respective elective Parliaments. Hence, they do represent at least a majority of their citizens. The European Commission, appointed by the heads of governments and “confirmed” by the European Parliament, enjoys an indirect, but not less important, form of democratic legitimacy. Moreover, all Commissioners are supposed and, probably, are also bent to work for the future of a better Europe, thus acquiring additional legitimacy through performance. Of course, the legitimacy circuit is subject to many challenges and its feedback loop may not work to our satisfaction. There are many improvements to be made not only by European political parties, but also by European civil societies.

My contentions is that what is really missing in all European institutions is accountability. Too many EuroMPs, though less so than in the recent past, do not believe that a European political career can be/is more important than a national career. Hence, they behave in a way that eschews electoral and political accountability. Rarely do the heads of government run their campaign in a positive way on their achievements within and for the European Union. They avoid any accountability for what is done, not done, poorly done in and by the European Union. All of them put the blame on the “others” (in the last few years on Germany and Chancellor Merkel). Even if they wanted to, no European Commissioner is in the position to claim and obtain to be considered accountable for his/her performance.

My presentation aims at explaining how Europarliamentarians, political parties and heads of government could establish a strong, precious and productive circuit of political accountability and improve the institutions and the destiny of the European Union.