The political establishment seems to be in a state of chock after the British people with a narrow majority decided to leave the EU. Prime minister Cameron’s decision to allow a referendum is hardly anything that is now applauded by the Bremain-camp and EU-supporters in the rest of the union. But why did the British vote for a secession?
Many have come to the conclusion that the Bremain-campaign was counterproductive. The rhetoric was frequently black or white without nuances. Either you were “a good liberal and pro-EU” or a” bigoted chauvinistic racist nationalist”, or perhaps a communist. That rhetoric is quite prevalent here in Sweden were only the far right Sweden Democrats and the Leftist Party have agendas of a Swedish referendum about Swexit.
However, that simplistic isn´t the EU-scepticism. You can perfectly well be a liberal, conservative or social democrat and still be critical about the concept of “the United States of Europe”. The choices doesn´t stand between the EU as a guarantor of democracy and peace, which is often claimed, or a Europe tumbled back into chauvinistic nationalism, chaos and World War III. Quite that deterministic isn´t the future although there are of course political incitements to portray it in this way.
True is however that the EU began as a true project of peace in the form of the Coal- and Steel Community in which the old enemies Germany and France (as well as the Benelux countries) took precautions against future conflicts by a mutual agreement regarding their strategic industries. Quite understandable after waging two World Wars against each other. The Coal- and Steel Community later became the European Community that became a guarantor for free trade of goods, services and free movement of the citizens. This was prosperous for the economic growth. In 1995 Sweden became a member of what had now become the EU and which was increasingly becoming more than just an organization of free trade.
The Lisbon Summit gave the EU-Parliament more power, BUT, here is a big BUT, the EU-Commission remains the true factor in European politics even though a proposal must pass the Parliament with a majority vote. The EU-Commission consists of appointed civil servants. If the commissioners had been democratically elected like the MP:s there would have been a true democratic legitimacy for the organization as such. The distance between the commissioners and the common European citizen is abyssal. Even though these civil servants are appointed by representative political bodies how can the ordinary citizen have a say in these matters? The fact is the citizen can´t. Therefore the representative nature of the EU-Commission is highly questionable as well as it´s democratic legitimacy.
The MP:s of the European Parliament does not possess the mandate to pass bills of their own initiative, an essential part of a parliamentary democracy. One could be somewhat scornful and claim that the Parliament exists only to give rudimentary democratic legitimacy for the European Project.
The Parliament’s function is to be a check towards the Commission’s proposals, however it does not have the ability to set the agenda. The latter is set by civil servants whom in their turn are influenced by other civil servants through lobbyism.
Here is when the democratic issue really becomes an issue. If we take the EU-Commission’s proposal for a new Firearms Directive as an example, a proposal that came just five days after the tragedies in Paris last year, it is a non-issue for the majority of the citizens of the EU. Something that also explains how Brussels could act the way it actually has. This seemingly non-issue question really puts the finger on the democratic deficit of the EU. The specific question left aside, the principals of democratic process are of much greater concern.
The EU-Commission’s proposal was put forth in great haste without any inventory of the actual problems or any analysis of the consequences of the proposal, something that is otherwise stipulated by the EU´s own laws. “The urgent need” was used as an excuse. The opinion poll that the EU had made regarding the need for a new directive, in which I personally took part, was classified. Probably the results wasn´t what the Commission desired which otherwise would have made the implementation of the agenda much more difficult from a democratic point of view.
EU-Commissioners like Fabio Marini and Elżbieta Biénkowska have knowingly lied to the EU-Parliament and in mass media and have presented what can only be described as propaganda in accordance with the saying “the end justifies the means”.
The aforementioned Marini led a ”Task Force” in order to deliver the Commission’s proposal in which Lars Henriksson from the Swedish Police assisted as technical expertise. The Swedish Police has for many years had a leadership which has can only be described as one characterized of blatant political activism from its civil servants. The Swedish Police has on it´s on accord taken initiative to wage a campaign against law abiding ownership of firearms. Unfortunately this has not met with any Parliamentary action, on the contrary. The chief civil servant within the Swedish Police regarding firearms instead became adjunct to Brussels in the matter on initiative of his friend and old colleague Nils Hänninger, chief negotiator at the Department of Justice. This is quite symptomatic for how political activism works among civil servants. If you don´t succeed in making your national parliament abide to your agenda you turn to the EU instead. Non-elected civil servants use lobbyism towards other non-elected civil servants in order to set the political agenda, not MP:s elected by the citizens.
As previously mentioned the Lisbon Summit gave the Parliament greater constitutional powers, any proposal must pass with a majority vote. But how can the MP:s vote in an orderly democratic fashion if they have been served half truths and open lies from the Commission´s part? Is it even possible to safeguard a democratic vote without an analysis of the consequences?
The EU-Commission has intentionally ignored the principal of subsidiarity in this matter. How can then the Commission claim democratic legitimacy? One might have contrasting views regarding law abiding civilian ownership of firearms, but there are constitutional laws that must be upheld in order to safeguard democracy. If the top leadership of the European Union disregards these, and are allowed to do so without repercussions, is the EU then a truly democratic organization?
One can often hear arguments put forth about “the greater good” but it is not reasonable that this must be to accept that we are dealing with a European “government” that intentionally bypasses its own constitution in accordance with “the end justifies the means”. How can an organization that claims itself to be the outermost guarantor of democracy bypass the most basic fundaments for democracy?
As previously mentioned, the Firearms Directive is a non-issue for most European citizens. The reason that I have become so involved in this specific question is due to the fact that I am a hunter and competition shooter that will be affected be the directive in question. But, the question arises if the EU finds it perfectly suitable to act in this manner regarding the Firearms Directive, what other questions are dealt with in the same way? The matter of principals vastly outstretches the specific question in importance.
So, no, anyone who is an EU-skeptic isn´t by definition a bigoted chauvinistic racist nationalist who is on Putin´s payroll. The rhetoric of the Bremain-campaign backfired. You can still be a good democrat who believes in parliamentary democracy but who nourishes an aversion against technocratic rule and top-down policies and finds it better leave an organization that doesn´t even uphold its own constitution in order to maintain a democratic governing. Swexit has, thanks to Brexit and the EU-Commissions blatant disregard from democratic accord, gone from something more suggested by political radicals on both the left and right wing to a position of the average citizen who has become fed up with not having his or hers voice heard, or perhaps heard and disregarded from. The more federative the EU has become, the greater need for democratic reforms. Instead we are witnessing the contrary.
Pride goes before a fall..