You can’t blame Brussels for Brexit

EU flagRonan McCrea, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at UCL, argues that it is not clear that the EU is any less accountable than national governments.

The claim that the EU is undemocratic and unaccountable is made so often it seems to be an accepted background to any discussion of the union. The charges levelled against it assert that EU institutions are unelected, unaccountable, and that EU democracy is a sham.

These critiques are only partially true and in many cases apply equally to the government of member states. Continue reading

Brexit referendum folly

Stefan Rousseau/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.Jan Zielonka, Professor of European Politics at the University of Oxford, writes that the consequences of the Brexit referendum are bad for both Europe and Britain, regardless of the result. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy on ‘Brexit Divisions’.

The EU referendum in the United Kingdom was intended as a festival of democracy, but it has proved to be an exercise in political madness. Brits pride themselves on being sensible and pragmatic people, but they embarked on a sentimental journey into the unknown. Rational arguments are being set aside while populists are having a party. The prospect of a referendum with an uncertain result has already caused a great deal of disarray, and those who count the costs of a possible Brexit should realise that major damage to Europe and the United Kingdom has already been done. Continue reading

Power to the parliaments! But will Cameron’s EU partners join his crusade?

Collier's_1921_Vol_7_Frontispiece_--_Parliament_Buildings,_LondonDavid Cameron wants national parliaments to have more say in the EU, but other European capitals have little appetite for radical change. Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, argues that he should instead focus on improving existing mechanisms for parliaments to influence draft EU legislation.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been touring European capitals to present his package for reforming the EU. Among other things, he wants a stronger role for national parliaments in the EU, but he has yet to make detailed proposals. Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, calls this the “scoping stage” during which Cameron is testing Europe’s appetite for reforms. Continue reading

Not in front of the MPs: Why can’t Parliament have a frank discussion about the EU?

Collier's_1921_Vol_7_Frontispiece_--_Parliament_Buildings,_LondonIn this post, Agata Gostyńska, research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, explains how Britain’s Parliament does a poor job of examining EU business—and proposes some simple reforms that would improve the way that it scrutinises European legislation.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, wants to make the EU more democratic. National parliamentarians, in his view, understand citizens’ concerns better than MEPs who deliberate in far-away Brussels and Strasbourg; national parliaments should therefore play a greater role in EU decision-making. However, Cameron’s argument would carry more weight if UK parliamentary scrutiny were improved. Continue reading

EU Reform: What do we actually need?

Richard Corbett, a Member of the European Parliament from 1996-2009 and since 2014, explores what the term ‘EU reform’ means for the current UK government. With EU reform demands and strategies still clearly to be defined by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, UK senior officials have been working behind the scenes with their European partners to identify priorities for change. Which conclusions did they reach, and how do their suggestions link up to London’s demands?

A strange thing happened in the second half of last year. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed to the British people that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ when it came to EU reform, senior representatives of the UK government were working behind the scenes with other EU countries to identify which areas of EU decision-making actually needed improving — and coming to strikingly different conclusions.

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