EU’s democratic problem

Why do we have governments?

I believe the original purpose was to protect the citizens from inside as well as outside negative influences. It had mostly to do with keeping people alive long enough to get some work and income out of them. The purpose has changed since the US and French constitutions influenced most of Europe, and many feel today that the government has a responsibility for giving us financial security. The banks and insurance companies can’t do whatever they want to squeeze a little more money out of us, but we know now that the security many have felt on that area is more of an illusory kind.

Democracy is real tricky business. When we had a referendum in Norway in 1994 about whether or not to join the EU, it was initially said that the people would decide. During the campaign this was changed to our vote only being an advisory referendum. It suddenly sounded like it wasn’t up to us after all. The no side won with support from 52,2 % of the population, but the debate has never ended, even though the polls show more than 70 % no today.

There were some similar remarks in Denmark when they had a referendum concerning the Maastrich treaty in 1992. Denmark was already an EU-member, but the new treaty that aimed to integrate Europe required a new referendum. The Danes voted no, but I seem to remember a cabinet member saying they would have as many votes as it took to get a different result. They voted yes a year later.

So I wasn’t really surprised when I read in a paper today that there is a petition to get a new referendum in Britain. When there are only two answers to a question you are going to have close to 50 % on both sides, and no matter who wins there will be many disappointed people. The problem with voting again is that the last democratic alibi will be gone.

EU and Britain have only themselves to blame. There is extreme poverty and inequality in EU, which is partly because the authorities focus on the most populous areas. It’s also about migration because it’s easy for people living in financial security to say that the Brits have to be tolerant and welcome people from any country in EU. This can quickly become a breeding ground for resentment because the authorities are already failing to protect their own people, and you can imagine what competition from people that work for less will do. There are places where children never see their parents do anything. They live in severe poverty and they never go to work. When children grow up in that kind of milieu there is a risk they won’t go to work either.

The Dublin regulation says that refugees have to seek asylum in the first country they come to, which is often Italy and Greece, and refugees that manage to get to another country are usually deported back to Southern Europe. The problem is that these countries don’t have much of a welfare system to offer the refugees. Understandably no one wants to stay there, so they keep trying to get farther north.

There are major concerns at the moment because while EU is forcing overwhelmed countries to accept more migrants than they can handle, there are people and especially children going missing. According to this article in The Guardian the EU’s criminal intelligence agency warn that pan-European gangs are targeting minors for sex abuse and slavery. At least 10 000 unacompanied child refugees have disappeared after after arriving in Europe.

A Rumanian beggar in the shopping strreet of my home town.
A Romanian beggar in the shopping strreet of my home town.

This is just scratching the surface. EU is pretending to be a union with a strong political alliance across the borders. They appear to be moving towards a united states of Europe, but that is an impossible dream. How many states do you think were ever independent in the USA? Before the constitution the states were a part of various empires (Britain, France, Spain, Mexico and Russia). If you want to talk about sovereign states you have to go back to native American nations and some minor attempts like Vermont Republic, State of Franklin (seceded from North Carolina in 1784) and Republic of Texas (seceded from Mexico in 1836). When the states we know as United States of America today entered the union they didn’t exactly give up independence. I think we are asking a lot when we expect the national law in each European country to be replaced by EU-law.  It doesn’t make things better when we see that it’s not working. I’m sure EU works well for Central Europe and other financially stable countries, but even these countries have social inequality.

When we get something new we have to allow for some time to get things properly organized. Nothing works perfectly from the beginning, but at some point we should start to see an improvement. The photo I used for an illustration in this post is of a beggar in my hometown. There are half a dozen of them sitting in the shopping street, a few more outside the malls, and I believe they are Romani people from Romania. They have travelled to Norway specifically to beg. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but I wonder why they are not Romania’s or EU’s responsibility. We pay a lot of money to get some of the rights of membership in the EU. It seems strange that we also have to deal with the extreme inequality inside the union.

EU is irritated with the British at the moment, but I would like to see a union that was more concerned with the people and less with free trade. Britain has always been the bad boy in EU, but I think most Britons would have embraced this community if the people on the outskirts mattered. They clearly don’t.

David Beckham was just one of many celebrities that supported the remain camp. He wrote this message on facebook before the vote:

For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone.

This is a beautiful sentiment, but David Beckham, J.K. Rowling and other celibrities that supported the remain-side are never going to be on the receiving end of poverty, unemployment and housing problems. Some of them have been, but they seem to have forgotten.

Europe 2020 indicators – poverty and social exclusionEurope 2020 indicators – poverty and social exclusion
Alarming report reveals rampant poverty across Europe
One in ten Scots in severe poverty
List of former sovereign states

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