Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, September 18, 2017

The EU: Maybe if we make things more confusing…

James Kanter, writing in the NYTimes, mentions the reputation problems of the EU when writing about some reform ideas of EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Prominent among critiques of the EU is its "democratic deficit." It's a key to understanding the operation of the EU.

E.U. Leader Suggests Simplifying How the Bloc Is Run
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, laid out plans on Wednesday to simplify the byzantine governance of the European Union…
Juncker addresses the EU Parliament

The complexity of the European Union is legendary. It has a plethora of institutions and no single leader, leaving many wondering who is in charge…

Mr. Juncker, of Luxembourg, leads the commission, a mass of powerful bureaucrats. Donald Tusk of Poland leads the European Council, which consists of the leaders of the 28 member nations and sets the union’s overall political direction. Antonio Tajani of Italy is president of the European Parliament.

Then there is the Council of the European Union — not to be confused with the European Council — which is made up of ministers and has a six-month rotating presidency.

The structure of the bloc… contributes to what scholars call a “democratic deficit,” the feeling that structures and officials in Brussels are unaccountable to ordinary people…

“The European landscape would be clearer and more understandable if the European ship was steered by one and the same captain at the helm,” [Juncker] said…

Mr. Juncker’s wide-ranging speech touched on these themes:
  • The favorable circumstances and relatively healthy economic growth across much of the bloc…
  • A new European minister for economy and finance…
  • Proposals in finance, intelligence-gathering and cybersecurity…
  • A warning that Britain’s exit from the bloc was “very sad and tragic”…
  • A far tougher line with Turkey…



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