Council of Europe warns of European Union’s undemocratic adventure

28 June 2012

Council of Europe warns of European Union’s undemocratic adventure

'Superstate Europe is being built, but no thought has been given to any democratic foundation’ according to SP Senator Tiny Kox, who was speaking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, where from all sides strong criticism was made of plans by twenty-seven of the Council’s forty-seven member states to weld themselves even more strongly together in an ever more powerful European Union. To a monetary union, a banking union and a fiscal union there must now, if left to Brussels, be added a political union. As for the member states’ peoples, they have not been consulted at all. That’s asking for trouble.

Tiny KoxA debate that began by considering new attempts by the EU to take over a share of the human rights tasks of the Council of Europe broadened into an extremely critical discussion of the way in which the European Union has allowed itself to be pushed in the direction of a United States of Europe by the current serious financial crisis. From all five political groups in the 350-strong Parliamentary Assembly, warnings came that matters would run out of control if the EU did not come to its senses. Senator Kox, who is president of the United Left Group in PACE, condemned Brussels’ moves in the direction of an accelerated unification under pressure from the financial markets, which have for some time had various EU member states in the line of fire of their speculative operations. ‘Why do we give in to financial markets which have neither address nor phone number, are both faceless and nameless – but who want indeed to play the lord and master over our societies? Big steps are sometimes needed. Sometimes politicians must take such steps too. But if your starting point for this is not the question of how we can make Europe stronger and more democratic, then you’re guaranteed to get it wrong.’

Earlier in the debate, SP Senator Tuur Elzinga had condemned the way in which the EU was trying to take possession of the Council of Europe’s tasks in relation to human rights. 'A few years back the European Union established its own human rights agency, which duplicates our work,’ he said. ‘And now they’re going to have a separate representative for human rights outside the European Union – so that will also mean for the member states of the Council of Europe which aren’t EU members. This will increase the competition between the two European organisations, rather than the cooperation. That is inefficient and will incur unnecessary major costs.’ He gained approval from, amongst others, Senator Hans Franken of the Netherlands’ centre-right Christian Democrats (CDA), spokesman of PACE’s biggest political group, the European People’s Party (EPP-CD). 'Not at all necessary, a new human rights representative of this kind, who is going to duplicate our work,’ said Senator Franken.

The Council of Europe must rapidly subject this development to scrutiny, in the view of Andreas Gross (Switzerland), who was speaking on behalf of the centre-left social democratic group. 'We are supposed to watch over democracy in Europe,’ he said. ‘That also holds true in relation to the European Union. Now that the population is not being consulted on its opinions, this assembly must make itself heard.’ His call won broad support, including from PACE president Jean-Claude Mignon (France), who promised to raise the issue with the president of the European Parliament. .

You are here