As a whole the EU is not a source of frustration, but its politicians or policies might be

A tweet by Gergely Polner, sometime comms guy for the European Parliament in London, and now working in the private sector, tweeted this earlier today that caught my eye:

What does this actually mean? (and indeed the quote Gergely chose comes from this blog entry by Anna Notaro of the University of Dundee)

Let me illustrate the point with two further tweets:

Michael Warhurst Executive Director at Chem Trust, an environmental organisation, and his tweets relate to the decision by the European Commission to axe proposals about clean air and the circular economy.

Both Michael, and Gergely (quoting Anna Notaro), mix up a critique of the European Union per se, and a critique of the policies that the European Union institutions are proposing, or not proposing. To rephrase Gergely’s tweet, and apply it to Michael’s case, I am frustrated by the Juncker-Timmermans Commission’s decision to axe the clean air and circular economy proposals.

Put another way, my support for the existence of the European Union does not depend on what the European Union does in this case, just as my support for the existence of the UK governent in Westminster does not depend on supporting the policies of Cameron’s government.

While I of course do not know all of Michael’s views, and all of Gergely’s views, I am pretty damned certain that they would not have a common list of what policies a successful European Union would propose. Welcome deregulation in one person’s eyes is an erosion of social standards in someone else’s. Such disagreements are normal in any political system. This European Commission will be a success, or not, when judged according to the goals it itself sets, and its ability to put its agenda into practice. If they do not, they will have failed as a Commission, but the European Union itself will not have failed – we need to kick the bastards out and put in different people next time. That’s how a democracy ought to work.

So no, Gergely (and Anna Notaro), the European Union has not been a source of frustration. The people running it have not been to my taste, either ideologically or in terms of competence, but that’s politics I’m afraid. Don’t try to hold the European Union to any higher standard than you would any other political system, and watch your words when trying to define what is a success (or not).

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1 comment

  1. Ken Adams

    Sorry I am failing to understand how we can as you say “kick the bastards out and put in different people next time.” The commission is not elected! Whatever it is, it is not about democracy.

    You say “This European Commission will be a success, or not, when judged according to the goals it itself sets, and its ability to put its agenda into practice.”

    But as we do not get to vote on its goals or its agenda, its success or failure, is only relevant to itself. We are mere onlookers who are forced to pay for the privilege of seeing our laws made by a system we cannot control, whether those laws are successful in achieving the goals of the Commission is immaterial to the fact that we did not vote for them in the first place.

    As you say your support for the existence of the UK government in Westminster is not relative to the present government but is support of the institution.

    The question that really needs addressing is why we ordinary people would want to support the EU as an institution which removes our ability to control our own government. That is not how democracy is supposed to work.