‘Europe of Freedom and Democracy’ is the name of the most eurosceptical formation in the European Parliament. Looking at their concrete portfolios, one would see to what extent their perception of the world is xenophobic and nationalist. Their first argument in the European Parliament is however not the preponderance of the white man, the opposition towards immigration, other cultures or religions, as their ideology would suggest. They don’t seem to hate the EU because it undermines their vision of the world. Not at all. Their first and most repetitive argument is that the EU is not democratic enough. I cannot agree more, but…
These fabulous orators forget to bear in mind – among thousands of other facts – two basic assumptions about democracy in the EU and their relationship to it:
- To democratise the EU is the last thing current eurosceptics really wish. They want to return to the national level pretending that democracy is more secure there. But they would never ever agree to a treaty, which would ultimately democratise the EU, as it would make a clear link between the people and the EU. Simply put, it would undermine the current quasi-monopoly of democratic communication between people and nation-states. And this is what eurosceptics fear the most.
- Because of national electoral systems, the European Parliament is the only place where major eurosceptic parties (i.a. UKIP, BNP, Front national) get elected to present their opinions and where people actually listen to them. They have all the rights to criticise the EU for the lack of democracy and they do so all the time. It’s just fine. Surprisingly however, I have never heard them criticise their countries for the lack of democracy or for excluding them from the democratic discussion. Nor have I heard them to acknowledge that thanks to the EU’s rules of openness and democracy – at least in the Parliament -, they are helped by public money to express their opinions.
By the way, many alleged pro-Europeans among national leaders are afraid of democracy in the EU as much as eurosceptics. But at least, they don’t denounce its lack on every single occasion.