Why Voting ‘in’ Is Morally Wrong
The European Union was a wonderful idea. Four freedoms between all member states: goods, services, capital and people. An open market for business, oppurtunity and fairness. And by and large, it worked. Great Britian is a richer place culturally and financially.
But staying in is morally wrong.
I’m not happy to be writing this post. Many of my closest friends would not be in the UK if it were not for the European Union. Further more, I’m associating myself with a camp that is often seen as bigoted and racist, a camp that I really really do not want to be associated with.
Morally Wrong? Thats a bit much…
It is strong language. Insulting someone’s morality is about as personal as you can get. Yet as I shall explain, the European Union’s internal structure is not democratic… we would happily point to any other country without a democracy and call their governance morally wrong, so why should the European Union be any different?
They should teach the EU structure in schools
The first time I learnt about the structure of the European Union was during my first year of university. It was not taught in school despite it being a core part of our country’s governance.
Most European citizens do not know how the European Union is structured, what role our country’s leaders play, and what role our elected European Parliament representatives play.
How the European Union is structured
The European Union is made up of seven arms, three of which are relevant to this discussion:
- The European Council — made up of the head of each member state in the European Union (eg. David Cameron, Angela Merkel); the European Commission President (non-elected); High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (non-elected)
- The European Parliament — the elected representatives of the citizens of the European Union
- The European Commission — appointed at the top level (non-elected), employees at all other levels (non-elected).
Note: The European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights are not part of the European Union. Leaving the European Union does not mean abandoning human rights.
What the European Council does
The European Council may bring about treaty changes where there is unanimous consent. The treaties: (1) set out how the European Union will be structured and (2) confer law making powers to the European Union (The last time this happened was in 2009 with the Treaty of Lisbon).
The European Council also appoints the highest levels of the European Commission and sets the general political direction.
The European Council does not write or pass law.
What the European Parliament does
The European Parliament votes on law and approves the appointed European Commission. They do not have the ability to create or write law.
In theory, the European Parliament can force the resignation of the European Commission, however this has never occurred in practice.
What the European Commission does
This is where it gets interesting.
While there are plenty of democratically elected members in the European Union (ie. those listed above), none of the elected members have law making power. That law making power rests with the European Commission.
The European Commission fulfills what is known as an ‘Executive Role’. They propose and write the laws, implement decisions and laws, and run the European institutions. The commission employs roughly 30,000 people.
No member of the European Commission is elected.
Educational background: in the United Kingdom ‘the executive’ is David Cameron, his cabinet of roughly 20 senior ministers, and roughly 100 other ministers. They form the heads of all the government departments; they have the power to write laws. They are accountable for those departments and laws.
Why is this wrong?
Foremost, there is no accountability.
If the European Commission makes a mistake, you as a European citizen cannot take action. In a democracy, you can ultimately vote them out at the next election. In the European Union, you cannot.
This means the members of the European Commission do not need to serve your interests to keep their job.
This lack of accountability then means there is a lack of backtracking.
We don’t like governments making mistakes, but it happens. If a law is implemented that does not have the desired effect, the democratically elected members of the European Union cannot do anything about it.
Just think about it for a moment. When the Conservatives attempted to introduce a wildly unpopular measure to curb disability allowance. They came under huge public scrutiny, the Government was held accountable, and they backtracked.
This does not happen within the European Union.
This leads nicely on to the next point. We are left with no media scrutiny. When a new head of a European Commission department is appointed, the media does not ask whether that person is qualified, the media doesn’t even cover it. The reason being is that the media talks about the people at the top, and there is no one elected at the top.
This means we are left in a position where the public cannot advocate a cause.
If there was a European Parliament party and you voted for them, they would be unable to actually write a law to implement their ideals, and they would be unable to run a government department. The whole idea of democracy is that we, the people, can vote for what we believe in.
If you believe the European Union should act in a particular way on immigration, healthcare, social security, or any other issue… you are literally powerless.
What happens if we vote out
There is a lot of fear mongoring from both sides. To be completely honest, we will probably be fine whatever way we vote — in or out. However, lets talk about what would happen if we voted out.
However, a lot of people claim that we don’t know what will happen if we vote out. That’s not exactly true... voting ‘out’ is not something that has never happened before — it’s just new to the European Union. In fact, countries leave a law making parent country all the time. The United States separated from their law making parent, as did Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and numerous others (they all left the UK).
What happens to their law when they left? Nothing.
The country puts a stick in the ground and says all law up until that point is the law.
We will not suddenly evict every European person without a British passport. We will not suddenly create trade barriers. Companies will not suddenly leave the UK (any suggestion that they would do so is grandstanding; companies generally don’t want to spend millions on something for no point).
We can also pursue the goals of the European Union, without being a part of it. We can negotiate free trade with more countries, and we can (and should) encourage free movement of people with more countries.
Most importantly though, we can once again have a form of governance that is democratic, that has accountability, that has responsibility, and that is representative of the people.
To leave with a cliché quote…
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” — Winston Churchill