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The Democratic Deficit (June 5, 1989)

Published just before the third direct election to the European Parliament in June 1989, this article sharply criticizes the European Community’s decision-making mechanisms, which, according to the author, were fueled by Eurocrats rather than parliamentarians. Whereas West Germany regarded a posting to Brussels as the political equivalent of being put out to pasture, other member states, the author argues, made considerable efforts to post prominent politicians there.

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“Pre-Democratic Conditions in Brussels”

The European Community has become a mighty economic power, and with the Single Market in 1992, it will be even more imposing. Americans and Japanese fear “Fortress Europe.” It is not, however, the citizens or their elected politicians who have the say in Brussels but rather the legions of national and European civil servants. The European parliamentarians who will be elected on June 18 have little influence in the Community, the economic bosses all the more.

They were deluded and enmeshed in eternal enmity; they seemed condemned to absurd battles of faith and murderous wars of conquest – to a systematic self-destruction of their own making.

But now the Europeans are suddenly in top form. A Europe of superlatives is taking the stage and running for election: When 243.7 million citizens from Faro in southern Portugal to the Danish city of Skagen, from Galway in Ireland to Samos in Greece are called upon to vote for a common parliament in mid-June, the Community will project a more powerful profile than ever before in its 32-year history. Three hundred and twenty million consumers are able to spend a domestic product of eight trillion marks. World champions in importing, first-class in exporting. And everything is supposed to get even bigger, better, and more beautiful when the borders within the Single Market fall on December 31, 1992.

[ . . . ]

The fourth European election, the third direct one, the first in the expanded Community of Twelve, is at the same time the first to be held amidst high political tensions. How powerful will the new International of the European ultra-right be on June 19? How shriveled Bonn’s Helmut Kohl?

But who will determine this Europe, which according to the chancellor’s prognosis “will no longer be recognizable in ten years”? Who will decide on standards, regulations, and guidelines that will continue to profoundly change the everyday lives of EC citizens, [that will] intervene in the production of industrial corporations and mid-sized companies, channel trade, and coordinate currencies?

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