Europeans run their democracies in a very strange way

Commentary — Europeans praise democracy, but they run their democracies in a very strange way.

Quoting the ZDNet story:

Earlier this month the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament demanded that the proposed software patent directive should be restarted from scratch. This request was ratified by senior members of the Parliament last week. The EC [European Commission] must now decide whether to accept the EP’s [European Parliament] request.

I mentioned my opinion on software patents in a previous post, so I should simply mention this as good news.

However, there’s a tiny detail that troubles me here in the wording: “The EC must now decide whether to accept the EP’s request.”

You might think, at first, that this is just the journalist who had some sad wording, but I’m afraid other journalists are reporting it in very much the same way: The EP said no, yet the EC remains stubborn.

For those of you who are not familiar with the European Union’s institutions, I should mention there are tens of different decision processes, that you can more or less summarize as follows:

  • The European Parliament’s members are elected, but their opinion barely counts
  • The European Commission’s members are named by European Union members’ Heads of States and, in theory, are the executive body of the European Union
  • The European Union Council’s members are the European Union members’ Heads of States, and their decision is final on much about everything

Other bodies are involved in decision processes, but mentioning the three previous is enough for our purpose.

Now, as an institution, the European Union, raises a number of questions on how you run a democracy. Technically, for instance, the European institutions could let the executive bodies of European Union member States bypass their State parliaments altogether. But the most interesting aspect of Europe is this: Recall the Nice Treaty disaster… Discussions that followed Ireland’s rejection of the treaty by referendum were related to renewing the referendum a few years later. As in: We’ll make them return to the ballots until they get the decision right.

This example here, with the patent directive, is very much the same. An elected parliament rejects the non-elected commission’s patent directive, yet the later gives signs it has to decide whether to bind itself to the parliament’s decision or not. This kind of arrogance has become so common in Europe that nobody even reacts anymore.

In the end, the simple fact is this: Europeans praise democracy, but they run their democracies in a very strange way.