The only CC Licensed image of Moraes I can find... He's 2nd from the right

Better than no-one – S&D group MEP Claude Moraes has issued a statement, on behalf of the group, defending Schengen and criticising Sarkozy and Berlusconi. Moraes – rightly – says:

The Sarkozy-Berlusconi demand for stricter border checks is ironic. It betrays their mistrust in each other’s ability to deal with migration and it shows that instead of working together to find solutions, they prefer to bring back barriers between countries.

All very well, and I am glad some elected politician is saying something decent on this, in light of my previous blog post.

The irony of course is that it’s a British Labour MEP, Claude Moraes, making the case to defend Schengen, when the UK is only part of the oppressive bit of Schengen (the SIS) and not the liberal bit (the lack of border controls). When, I wonder, might Moraes put his head above the parapet and demand full UK membership of Schengen?

Photo: PES PSE “Claude Moraes MEP, London, UK
April 24, 2010 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

7 Comments

  1. Marcus

    Hi Eurocitizen, I understand what you are driving at.

    I would really question your use of the word “democracy”, as surely you have surely manipulated it so that it means something very different from the ideal that it ‘popularly’ refers to (in the minds of many or most) – i.e. that their concerns gain representation in an elected figure.

    That’s fine, but surely it then deserves a different term?

    I am perfectly ok with the idea that not every decision should be the made on the basis of popular consensus, as you point out. But think the EU has really lurched wildly in the opposite direction – to the extent that it now seems to dismiss everything that might appeal to base emotion as “populist” and therefore beneath its concern.

    Anyway, in terms of your example:

    “In the long run it would also deal with the perverse incentives that employers now have for hiring them and thus, ultimately, they will stop ‘stealing’ the local population’s jobs.”

    Surely these kinds of arguments need to be put to the public at large, as they are in the UK, or on national scales? Otherwise people just won’t understand them, and that would represent a betrayal in reality. Well it’s difficult, as MEPs really do not get much publicity in the UK.

    Sorry for the rant, great blog. I hate the EU and like it in equal measures.

  2. European Citizen

    Yes, I think it was directed at me. I knew the matter was too complex to explain in one comment but I just wanted to provoke a bit of discussion. Marcus, the distinction between ‘input’ and ‘output’ is important and refers to the fact that a decision can be legitimate (if you have a problem using the word ‘democratic’) either because of the way it was arrived at (input) or because of its results (output).
    Moreover, representative democracy, which I think is the model you have in mind when you talk about democracy, is only one possible model. ‘Deliberative democracy’ (very very broadly, a system in which the decisions are taken on the basis of deliberation and not voting) is another possibility.
    Many people feel emotional about issues such as migration and this is quite understandable. Yet, we should also recognize that we do not always have the complete information to make the best choices.
    One question to both Jon and Marcus (just because Jon said he broadly shares his views): would it be bad to give some basic rights to undocumented migrants even if the majority of the electorate in Europe could not care less about them? I suppose, intuitively the first answer would be no: if the majority does not want it, then we shouldn’t. However, many of the rights would ensure that undocumented migrants are not exploited so, in the long run it would also deal with the perverse incentives that employers now have for hiring them and thus, ultimately, they will stop ‘stealing’ the local population’s jobs. There you have a good example how more emphasis on output legitimacy may be a good thing. Obviously, this is not the case for all policies all the time but still.

  3. Marcus

    “Of course the fact that a British MEP who can’t talk about half of his brief at home is a a spokesperson for JHA is problematic from a democratic point of view. At the same time this problem only concerns the ‘input’ side of democracy.”

    !!

    !!!!

    !!!!!!

    You guys are something else. How can you be so utterly cynical and dismissive of the democratic principal that you divide into an “input” and an “output” side, and consider “output-only” decisions as “democratic”!!!

    That really is ridiculous.

    If you can’t sell decisions as fundamental as border control, immigration and the granting of rights to immigrants to significant portions of an electorate, then surely that’s tough.

    You don’t get to call political desires formulated in ivory towers, far away from “media and pressure at home” as democratic because they are “output”!!!

    What an absurd joke of a self-justication. How can you ;possibly defend that? Think about what that train of thought means, in terms of the Commission’s likely future direction. In terms of sustenance of its desire to make sure it can do what it wants (so that democratic “input”, doesn’t have to match “output” on fundamental matters).

  4. Marcus – I don’t know why you are ranting at me (you say ‘guys’) because – broadly – I agree with you, hence the title of this blog entry. I think your gripe is with commenter ‘European Citizen’, or have I misunderstood something?

  5. European Citizen

    I have stopped wondering about many of the EP’s practices long ago because I discovered that the principle of consensus and of not offending the big, small or new Member states is the dominant one.

    Of course the fact that a British MEP who can’t talk about half of his brief at home is a a spokesperson for JHA is problematic from a democratic point of view. At the same time this problem only concerns the ‘input’ side of democracy. Maybe it is a good thing after all that he is relatively shielded from media and political pressure at home, so that he can afford to defend policies that he would otherwise be unable to such as granting more rights to undocumented migrants. Thus, in terms of ‘output’ the policies could be democratic. Of course, it would be difficult to convince the people who never voted for such policies that they can be democratic, be it only in the ‘output’ sense.

  6. European Citizen

    Jon,

    It is not ironic, to the extent that Claude Moraes is the spokesperson for S&D on JHA matters. He is also the former director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and has done a good job on a number of directives as a rapporteur.
    I suppose advocating for joining Schengen at a time when the commission is talking about the possibility of reintroducing border controls is akin to a political suicide…

  7. I know *why* he has to do it, and I don’t deny the statement is OK, and Moraes is OK.

    But you have to wonder why a British MEP who can’t talk about half of his S&D brief in his consistuency ends up as the coodinator on that committee…

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