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How Democratic Is the European Union

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How democratic is the European Union?

The concept of democracy refers to the involvement of the people in political decision-making and also includes the ability of the citizens to hold their representatives to account, which are usually achieved through elections. Whether the European Union is democratic has been seen as a controversial question by a lot of people in the world. To some extent, the European Union can be described as democratic. Whereas, some people supposed that there is still a lack of democracy in some areas.

The idea that the EU suffers from a democratic deficit is widely supported in academic circles. One of the reason why is that the EU institutions are remote for the people. The relationship between institutions is unclear and difficult to grasp. What’s more, some jargons are used in the EU, such as “double-majority”, “co-decision” and so on, which is complicated for the people to understand. All of these lead to citizens can not be involved in decision-making sufficiently. In addition, there is a lack of transparency within the EU, in other words, there are a lot of secrecies exist in the EU. Hence, the EU has always been an “elite project” driven forward by “ top decision makers with little popular enthusiasm for below”. Secondly, the powers of the EP is limited. As the only directly elected EU institution, are weaker than those of other institutions. The EP is unable to propose legislation and only has the power to propose amendments to laws. Elections for the EP also suffer from a low turnout (in the UK only 34.7% of people voted in the 2009 EP election), so many citizens are not accepting the opportunity to influence decision-making. Therefore, the essence of the democratic deficit is defined as the transfer of power from elected to unelected bodies. E.g. from the Westminster Parliament to the European Commission. In addition, each...

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