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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A triumph for European Parliamentary scrutiny?

As the only directly elected component of the EU machine, taxpayers and citizens have a right to expect that MEPs will stand up for their interests in Brussels, scrutinising the decisions and spending of the other EU institutions.

In recent months, the parliament’s budgetary control committee, marshalled by Monica Macovei MEP, the former Romanian Justice Minister, has been very critical of three EU agencies in particular – the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Food Safety Agency (FSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – for “using public money for questionable purposes and for tolerating conflicts of interest in top management”, an an issue we also highlighted in our recent short report on this topic.

Consequently, the Parliament voted to postpone the discharge of the agencies’ 2010 budgets, a strong signal of disapproval by EP standards. 
However, as the Parliament magazine reported yesterday, German socialist MEP Jutta Haug, the parliament's rapporteur on the EU agencies in the committee - the very person who should be taking the lead on this issue - wrote to the agencies telling them they did not need to co-operate any further with MEPs. In the letter to Catherine Geslain-LanĂ©elle, director of the FSA, she wrote that:
"I am of the opinion that during the during the 2010 agencies' discharge procedure, the committee has exceeded by far its competences… Consequently, I should like to invite the FSA not to reply to inquiries beyond the comments voted in plenary." 
Could you imagine a UK MP undermining their colleagues by writing to the head of a public body urging them not to co-operate further with a parliamentary investigation into how they spend taxpayers' money?
Undermining even this much welcome, even if relatively modest, attempt by MEPs to inject greater scrutiny and transparency into EU spending will surely only further exacerbate the disconnect between what is happening in the real world and the EP bubble.


Rik said...

At the basis this is of course one of the main reasons that there is not sufficient platform for the EU and certainly not for extending its powers.

The EP might be democratically elected, but that doesnot mean citizens accept it as a credible parliament.
We can see it with the Euro discussions. No decisionmaker takes them serious. Not involved in any of the major decisionmaking.

Made even worse by guys like Barroso. Who is clearly only interested in increasing the power of the Commission and not in anyway in strengthening the democratic foundations of the EU or finding a real solution for the problem btw.

It is basically an issue of standards. There can a lot be said about say the UK's parliament (and that of several other mainly Northern nations), but it is clearly in another category than the EP. That looks in everything (including standards) simply a mixture of parliaments from countries with a long term democratic tradition and of countries that just left dictatorship (in many forms) a few decades ago.
Especially in the North the perceived level of democracy and standards of the EP should be higher than that of the parliament back home. Higher as people rather like to be ruled by their own. However it is clearly and substantially the other way around.

The same again with the other EU institutions. First of all appointments look to be mainly political. That is why Lady Ashtons can get important positions. Nobody is going to tell me that it was on basis of competence.
Secondly we get people like Barroso who simply looks dodgy even for a Southern politician. Take Draghi or Monti and we know that there are really competent people around in the South. But the European people get Barroso.

This is of course mainly a problem in the North. As the standards (EU compared to national institutions)there are lacking the most. Combined with the fact that the North is requested to finance a lot of the expenditure in the South for at least the next decade.
There is simply no platform created for that.
And it furthermore looks that the EU isnot really interested in creating one for any other reason than getting the points on their own aganda approved.

Anonymous said...

exactly why we want out

Average Englishman said...

There is a serious and fundamental democratic deficit in the EU and the powers that be in Brussels, Berlin, Paris etc., seem content for it to remain. This is why I have referred to the EU previously as the EUSSR; not as a cheap jibe but an informed observation.

Knowing what I do now I wouldn't have joined a golf club in 1975 with the rules of the then Common Market, let alone voted for my country to get embroiled in this mess for 37 years.

I agree with Anonymous; it's time to go.