Brussels or Davos?

European Parliament building in Brussels

Interesting discussion with my local European Movement branch this evening on the role of the European Parliament. Our basic concern was that the full extent of the role of the EP is not properly understood by the public: if the voters don’t know about the benefits they get from something, it is not surprising they are reluctant to support it. All that most people hear is the scandal and confusion. The fact that MEPs actually have more influence over legislation than do MPs in Westminster goes without notice. As does the fact that it’s a good thing that the European Parliament has this power.

(You can read a paper on the subject by Michael Barry, who was our speaker this evening, at

Imagine if there was no European Parliament. The important decisions would continue to be taken, but the national civil servants would be able to get on with fixing deals and scratching backs without any public accountability. Intergovernmental decision-making excludes the rights of the citizen. International democracy is hard to do, and even harder to do well, but it is better than the alternative.

On the TV right now there is a news report from the World Economic Forum in Davos. The journalists are there by invitation rather than by right. Would we prefer the EU to work like that? I don’t think so.

This blog entry first appeared on The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union or of the Yes campaign.

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