Select Committee on European Scrutiny Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Professor Vernon Bogdanor CBE, Professor of Government, Oxford University )

  I.  There is clear evidence that the European Union is losing democratic legitimacy. It faces the challenge of harnessing popular sentiment to the construction of Europe. That challenge can best be met by adapting British ideas of responsible government to the working of the institutions of the Union; and by introducing a measure of direct democracy, in the form of the referendum, not to overcome the institutions of the Union, but to supplement them.

   II.  It has become a commonplace that the European Union is suffering from a democratic deficit, because the European Parliament is unable to hold the executive of the European Union to account. Much of the reform agenda which European leaders are preparing for the next intergovernmental conference in the year 2004 is devoted to the internal relationships between the institutions of the European Union and the appropriate balance between them.

  The main problem facing the Union, however, is less an imbalance between the institutions than popular alienation from its objectives. Indeed, this alienation is coming to threaten the very legitimacy of the Union itself. It is a striking fact that turnout for the European Parliament elections has fallen steadily and continuously since 1979, the year of the first European Parliament elections.


Number of member states
% Turnout

  In the last elections in 1999, fewer than half of the eligible electorate voted; and this figure itself overstates the true level of voluntary participation, since voting is compulsory in Belgium, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.

  In the two countries which are seen as the motor of European Union, France and Germany, turnout was 47.0 per cent and 45.2 per cent respectively. In the three new member states, Austria, Finland and Sweden, which voted for the first time in European elections, turnout was, respectively, 49.0 per cent, 30.1 per cent and 38.3 per cent. Turnout was lowest in Britain at 24 per cent. In parts of Liverpool, turnout was just 8 per cent. Turnout in Britain, it has been pointed out, was lower than the percentage who were prepared to "vote" in a popular television programme called "Big Brother". It is hardly possible for the European Parliament to claim a mandate to represent the opinions of 370 million people of the European Union when fewer than half of its eligible electorate is willing to vote for it.

  This fall in turnout is paradoxical, since it has occurred at a time when the power and influence of the European Parliament have greatly increased, largely due to two major amendments of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act of 1986 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. In 1979, at the time of the first direct elections, many commentators, dismayed by a turnout far lower than they had hoped, claimed that apathy was inevitable at a time when the European Parliament had so few powers. Voters could not, they suggested, be persuaded to turn out to elect what would prove to be little more than a talking shop. However, the increase in powers for the European Parliament has coincided with a steady decrease, not an increase, in the percentage of European electors willing to turn out to vote for it. There is thus a striking contrast between the progressive transfer of competences to the European level and the lack of popular involvement on the part of the European electorate. This failure to mobilise popular consent is now the principal weakness of the European project.

  There seems, then, little enthusiasm for the European electoral process. Not only is the European Parliament unable to help create a European consciousness, but, far from being seen as the protector of the citizen against the machinery of European bureaucracy, it has come to be regarded rather as part of that machinery itself. Instead of being a counterweight to the technocratic elements in European Union, it is perceived as an element in that technostructure, part of an alienated superstructure.

  This failing on the part of the European Parliament, so it is suggested, is not contingent, but inherent in the way that European institutions have developed since 1958 and on the tacit understandings which underlie them.

  The European Parliament stems from the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community set up in 1952, which was restricted to the exercise of largely "supervisory" powers. It was not at the time seen as central to the European project, but was tacked on to the other institutions of the Community in a somewhat perfunctory way. In the Treaty of Rome, as ratified in 1958, the powers of the Parliament were described in Article 137 as "advisory" as well as "supervisory". The European Community, then, was to be based not on parliamentary government, but on government by wise men and women situated in the Commission, which was perhaps seen as a European analogue to the French Commissariat du Plan.

  The European Union has been very much influenced by the ethos of consociational democracy. This is little understood in Britain where the ethos of the Union is often, and in a rather facile manner, compared to that of a federal state. In a consociational state, however, as it existed in the Netherlands, for example, politics operated by elite agreement, and the various groupings forming the consociation—in the Netherlands, Catholics Protestants and Liberals, in the European Union, the peoples of the member states—remain separate. In such a consociational system, the legislature foregoes much of its classical role of scrutinising government and holding it to account. For neither the legislature nor the people dare untie the packages agreed by elites, since it is elite agreement which holds the system together.[1]

  What both the French technocratic ethos and the Dutch consociational ethos have in common is their denial of the basic principle of parliamentary government, that government should be responsible to parliament. For the French, parliamentary interference would have ruined the European project, as it had ruined the 3rd and 4th Republics. For the Dutch, parliamentary government would have divided Europeans in an unacceptable way, and so hindered the prospect of reaching agreement. Such ideas were, of course more plausible in a period when there was deference to political leaders, when the leaders led and the followers followed. It has become less plausible in an era when the leaders continue to lead but the followers decline to follow.

  The consequence, however, was bound to be a restricted role for the European Parliament. Thus, elections to that Parliament do not, as we have seen, fulfil the functions which elections are normally expected to perform. In Britain, and in most other democracies, elections confer legitimacy because they fulfil three inter-related functions. They offer the voter first a choice of government, second a choice of who should lead that government, so providing it with a recognisable human face, and third the choice of a set of policies.

  Elections to the European Parliament, however, fulfil none of these functions. They do not determine the political colour of the European Union, nor do they determine how it is to be governed, for the government of the Union is shared between the Council of Ministers and the Commission, and the composition of neither of these bodies is affected by European elections. Therefore European elections do little to help determine the policies followed by the Union; nor do they yield personalised or recognisable leadership for the Union. This has important consequences particularly in foreign policy. Henry Kissinger once complained that if he wanted to telephone the spokesman for Europe, he did not know what number to ring. "Who do I call? Who is Mr. Europe? If I wish to consult Europe, and I have a phone in front of me, what number do I dial?" At the time of the Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986, Europe, whose interests were clearly affected, was conspicuous by its absence. "Our old continent is absent from the major negotiations between super powers at which Europe's fate is being sealed", the European Parliament complained. "No single person is in a position to represent it".[2] The situation is hardly different today. The creation in 1999 of the post of Secretary-General and High Representative for Commission Foreign and Security Policy, hardly fills the gap. Indeed, it is doubtful if most Europeans know the name of the current incumbent, Javier Solana, who was not, of course, chosen by anything resembling a democratic process, and is therefore in no sense a political leader.

  The Presidency of the European Commission is decided not by the voters but by private dealings between the governments of the member states. In 1994, for example, Jean Dehaene, the Prime Minister of Belgium, who had been proposed as successor to Jacques Delors, was thought to be unsuitable, not by the European Parliament, but by Britain's Prime Minister, John Major, who believed that Dehaene was too "federalist". Europe's leaders then agreed upon Jacques Santer as his replacement. But this whole process took place without any involvement or even consultation on the part of the European Parliament, which, nevertheless, formally approved Santer as President.

  Yet, Santer, who was a Christian Democrat from Luxembourg, was approved by a newly-elected Parliament containing a majority from the Left. The European Parliament seemed perfectly prepared to endorse a President who did not represent the majority of its members.

  In March 1999, three months before the next round of European Parliament elections, the European Commission resigned en bloc, following allegations of corruption. This led to the replacement of Jacques Santer as President of the Commission by Romano Prodi. It did not seem to have occurred to the leaders of Europe, meeting in private conclave, to await the result of the European Parliament elections before deciding upon Prodi as the next President.

  Moreover, the nomination of individual commissioners by the member states bears no necessary relationship to the electoral success of the political parties. In the 1999 European elections in Germany, for example, the CDU/CSU, the German component of the Christian Democrat transnational European Peoples Party, secured the largest number of votes, but the SPD/Green government nevertheless appointed an SPD and a Green commissioner. It would be difficult to find more striking illustrations of the irrelevance of the European Parliament to the governance of Europe, indeed of the irrelevance of the elections themselves.

  In elections in the member states of the Union, electors generally sees a connection between their vote and the actual outcome in terms of policy and leadership. Elections to the European Parliament, however, do not lead to the choice of an executive nor of an electoral college which chooses an executive. It is hardly possible, therefore, for electors to perceive any connection between their vote and the policy of the Union.

  Thus elections to the European Parliament, although in form transnational, have become in practice a series of national test elections, analysed for their implications upon the domestic policies of the member states, rather than the European Union. They are second-order elections in that their outcome is dependent not on European matters, but on national party allegiances, modified by the popularity or the unpopularity of the incumbent government in each member state.[3] They thus bear some resemblance to transnational opinion polls charting the fortunes of the main domestic forces in the various member states. But this means that they are unable to confer legitimacy on the European project.

  III.  This weakness has become particularly striking since, in Europe, from the late 1960s, as in democracies in other parts of the world, the demand for political participation has grown apace. One consequence of this has been that the mismatch between popular expectations and the performance of government widened during the 1980s and 1990s. For the effects of social change—rising living standards, the gradual embourgeoisement of the working class, the spreading ownership of property, shares and other assets—all served to diffuse economic power more widely and to erode traditional attitudes towards authority. The development of information technology and the coming of an information society seemed to make possible a radical dispersal of decision-making so that centralized, top-down methods of government came to appear outdated. Many, perhaps most, democracies elected governments which sought to move in the direction of a market economy emphasising the importance of individual choice in both the public and private sectors; one consequence was the development of a consumerist culture so that, in social and economic affairs at least, the individual gained sovereignty. The governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, moreover, sought to make public institutions themselves more accountable, both through privatisation, and by encouraging devolution from local authorities to individual institutions such as schools and housing estates. The central theme was the attempt to give individuals more control over institutions providing public services. Britain indeed was a pioneer in the 1990s in a revolution in government and in attitudes to government, a revolution which sought to resolve the paradox that the triumph of liberal democracy, following the collapse of Communism, seemed to be accompanied by growing alienation from government. If one had to sum up this revolution, one could say that its essence consisted in government becoming more consumer and voter-friendly, more concerned with outputs than inputs, more concerned to satisfy the needs of voters and citizens. The "Citizen's Charter", introduced by John Major in 1991 was much mocked at its inception, but its basic principle has been copied in a number of other democratic countries. The reforms, sometimes rather superficially attributed to "Thatcherism" were in fact widely adopted, even in countries ruled by governments of the Left—France, for example, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.

  Nevertheless, the growth of consumer sovereignty was not in general matched by corresponding changes in the political sphere. There was indeed something of a contrast between the return of individualism in economic life and the relatively passive role which individuals were expected to adopt towards their political institutions. Voters, however, have begun to show a disconcerting insistence on untying the consociational packages that their leaders have agreed. That process was apparent in the referendums on the Maastricht and Nice treaties in Denmark, France and Ireland. It might have been apparent in other member states also had they been required to ratify these treaties by referendum. The packages agreed with much effort by political leaders, therefore, are in danger of being untied as the demand for popular involvement in decisions-making asserts itself. Perhaps indeed the concept of "consociational democracy" is actually a contradiction in terms. Perhaps consociational systems only work by denying democratic participation in what are seen as the wider interests of the stability of the system. What is clear is that it is no longer, as perhaps it may once have been, a satisfactory method of governing a community whose members see themselves as active citizens.

  Because the institutions of the European Union are seen as being so remote from the voter, reforms involving rejigging these institutions or inventing new institutions are unlikely to prove of value. The European Union is already cluttered with institutions. It needs a streamlining of institutions, and the reconnecting of its institutions with the people, not more institutions.

  The European Union has, in particular, no need for a second chamber of the European Parliament, composed of national parliamentarians from the member states. Such a second chamber which would be analogous perhaps to the Bundesrat in the German Federal Republic, or the American Senate before direct election was introduced in 1913, would serve to impose the pre-1979 European Parliament on top of the post-1979 Parliament. It would tend not to the clarifying of accountability, but to the blurring of accountability, since national electorates are already linked to the Council of Ministers through their national political parties. The need now is to link national electorates to the Commission through the transnational political parties.

  IV.  If, then, the constitutional structure of the European Union does not yield accountability to the voters of Europe, how might such accountability be secured? Some of Europe's more far-sighted leaders have come to favor the introduction of an element of direct election in European institutions. Ex-President Giscard of France, for example, has advocated that the President of the European Council be directly elected by universal suffrage, while Jacques Delors has called for the direct election of the President of the Commission, and, as a first step towards that aim, the election of the Commission President by an electoral college comprising members of national parliaments and the European Parliament. Jacques Chirac, also, has shown considerable sympathy with the idea of direct election.

  It is, perhaps, not at all surprising that support for direct election comes from France whose 5th Republic finds so important a place both for direct election of the President and for the referendum. Indeed, it may be argued that if the European Community reflects in part the ethos of the French 4th Republic, it should now be replaced by a system based on the ethos of the French 5th Republic, and this is the aim of the French reformers.

  Direct election would explicitly recognise the principle of the sovereignty of the people as the foundation-stone of a united Europe. It seeks to meet the central challenge facing Europe which is that of discovering some means of bridging the gap between the elite and the people so as to construct a European consciousness without which the whole European idea will remain an empty construct.

  Direct election would enable European voters to influence the policy of the European Union and to choose its government. It would provide that democratic base of legitimacy which at present the European Union lacks. There would then be a strong incentive for Europeans to vote in elections genuinely designed to determine the political orientation of the Union. Moreover, direct election would focus popular interest on European issues, giving them glamour and excitement, qualities sadly lacking at present, and it might therefore prove a remedy for falling turnout and electoral apathy.

  But there are two obvious objections to the idea of direct election. The first is that European solidarity is probably not yet sufficiently advanced for the nationals of one member state to be willing to support the national of another as in effect leader of Europe. Indeed, it may be argued that the proposal for direct election presupposes the very solidarity which it is intended to help create.

  Secondly, any alteration in the method of electing the President of the European Council or the Commission would require an amendment to the Treaty. Such an amendment would need to be carried unanimously by every member state. In two member states, Denmark and Ireland, Treaty amendment requires approval by the people in a referendum. In both countries, referendums have led to rejection—of the Maastricht Treaty in Denmark in 1992, and of the Nice Treaty in Ireland in 2001. In another member state, France, where a referendum was not constitutionally required, the government nevertheless called one on the Maastricht treaty in 1993, and this led to but a narrow majority for the treaty. The two rejections and the one near-rejection led to major crises in the European Union.

  It is highly unlikely that, in the current state of Euro-scepticism, unanimous agreement could be secured for an amendment proposing direct election of the President of the Commission or of the European Council. At least one member state and possibly more, would probably reject such a proposal, not only ensuring its defeat, but causing a further crisis in the Union. This would reawaken the same atavistic sentiments which Maastricht aroused. The proposal for direct election is again seen to presuppose that very European solidarity which it seeks to create.

  But, if the French method of democratising the European Union seems too Utopian to work in current circumstances, the same may not be true for the British notion of parliamentary responsibility. Article 158 of the Treaty requires the President of the Commission to secure a vote of confidence before assuming office. This vote is generally a formality, and it would be refused only if someone manifestly unsuitable or corrupt were to be proposed. There is no reason, however, why this should continue to be so. There is no reason why the vote of confidence should remain a mere formality. Instead, it could be used, as of course it is in Britain, to enforce responsibility.

  In Britain, as in other parliamentary systems, a government's existence depends upon its ability to secure a majority in the legislature. If it fails to do so, it must resign. Why should not the same principle apply in the European Union? The European Parliament could, if it so wished, and without the need for any treaty amendment, simply insist that the political outlook of the President of the Commission, and indeed of the Commission as a whole, conform to that of the majority in the Parliament. Thus, a Left majority could insist that the President of the Commission and the Commission were taken from the Left, a Right majority, conversely, could insist that the President and the Commission came from the Right.

  If the Commission were to be dependent upon the majority in the European Parliament, this would entirely transform the role of the Parliament, for it would become an executive-generating body. There would then be an incentive for electors to turn out to vote in European Parliament elections since they would be helping to determine whether Europe was to be governed in a Leftward or a Rightward direction, something which has become of much greater importance with the development of economic and monetary union; electors would also be helping to determine the political leadership of Europe and the broad direction of public policy in Europe. The elections would become a real analogue of domestic elections rather than, as they are at present, a series of domestic elections conducted simultaneously. Elections to the European Parliament would fulfil the same three functions as domestic elections. They would be helping to determine the broad direction of public policy, choosing a government, to the extent that the Commission is in fact a "government", and helping to determine the political leadership of Europe.

  This transformation in the role of the European Parliament would almost certainly lead to further consequential changes. For voters would seek to know who the different transnational parties would nominate as Commission President. The larger political groups would probably nominate candidates for the Presidency before the European elections, thus making the process of choice of President more transparent. This would make the European elections in effect direct elections of the European Commission. The analogy with domestic elections, which, in Britain and many other democracies, have the function of directly electing the leader of the government, would be even more complete. Direct elections would then link voters to the Commission of the European Union through the transnational parties.

  The British contribution, then, could be to show how the fundamental principle of parliamentary government, of a government responsible to parliament, can be applied to the European Union so as both to yield accountability and to clarify the purpose of European elections.

  V.  The idea of responsibility, however, implies not only the responsibility of government to the legislature, collective responsibility, but also the responsibility of individual ministers to the legislature, individual responsibility. This too is an idea which could readily be adapted to the European Union.

  The essence of the notion of individual responsibility was well stated by Gladstone who declared that "In every free state, for every public act, some one must be responsible; and the question is, who shall it be? The British Constitution answers: `the minister and the minister exclusively'."[4] Ministerial responsibility in this sense is a fundamental principle of the British Constitution, defining and prescribing as it does the relationships both between ministers and officials and between ministers and Parliament. Indeed, it has the same importance in the British system of government as the concept of the separation of powers does in the American.

  Under the British system of government, executive powers are, with a few notable exceptions, conferred by Parliament upon ministers and not on officials. It is the concept of ministerial responsibility which buttresses the politically neutral role of civil servants. For it ensures that officials, with very few exceptions, speak and act in the name of ministers. They have no constitutional personality of their own. Everything that they do is, constitutionally, done under the authority of a minister, either express or implied. Thus, civil servants are accountable only to the ministers whom they serve. They have, in general, no direct accountability to Parliament. Ministerial responsibility allows the minister to be both the conduit through which accountability flows, and also the wall protecting officials from Parliament. Thus, the concept of ministerial responsibility sustains a structure of government within which ministers are served by permanent officials who are required to serve governments of any political colour, and who, at senior levels, are debarred from party affiliation. It is in this way that ministerial responsibility helps to sustain a politically neutral civil service.

  The sharp separation of ministerial and official roles which characterises Britain and the "old" Commonwealth countries—Canada, Australia and New Zealand—is not, by and large, met with in Europe. On the Continent, by contrast, there are instead the phenomena of the elected official and the unelected politician. Indeed, one of the reasons why we in Britain find it so difficult to understand the European Union is that in it important decisions can be taken by unelected persons, by European Commissioners. Jacques Delors, for example, a European leader of great authority and significance, was never elected to any position in the European Union, except the European Parliament between 1979 and 1981, when he left on being appointed Economics and Finance Minister in the new government of Francois Mitterrand. Nor was he ever elected to any domestic position, except in local government. It is little wonder that to British eyes the operation of the European Union often seems to blur responsibility and to confuse lines of accountability.

  The concept of responsibility both identifies who is under a duty to respond to questions by Parliament, but it can also be used to attribute blame. Thus, the principle of ministerial responsibility to Parliament prescribes, first, that a minister must answer to Parliament for every power conferred upon him or her; and second, that a minister is answerable to Parliament for the way in which he or she uses his powers. Parliament can, in the last resort, if it is unhappy about the way a in which a minister has exercised his or her powers, compel the resignation of the minister.

  There is a great contrast between the principle of ministerial responsibility as it operates in British government, and the absence of such responsibility in the European context. When, in 1999, various commissioners were accused of mismanagement and corruption, the European Parliament seemed to have no form of redress against the errant Commissioners. The only form of redress was to secure the resignation of the whole Commission en bloc, and that required a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament. At one time, it looked as if an overall, but not a two-thirds majority would be secured. This would have meant that the Commission, despite having lost the confidence of the Parliament, could continue, broken-backed, until the end of its term. But in any case the resignation of the whole Commission would have punished the innocent along with the guilty. It was as if in Britain, the only way to punish a minister who had made a mistake was to require the resignation of the government as a whole.[5]

  To introduce the principle of ministerial responsibility into the government of the European Union would not, it seems, require any constitutional amendment to the Treaty. It could be achieved if members of the European Parliament were prepared to use their existing powers to the full. In addition to a vote of no confidence in the Commission as a whole, it would be perfectly possible for the European Parliament to put down a motion of no confidence in a particular commissioner on the grounds of mismanagement, incompetence or corruption, and to insist on securing access to all the documents relevant to the decisions which were being questioned, in order to debate the motion. This would force the commissioner to defend his or her record, and it would act as a powerful incentive to better administration in the European Union. For, where there has been mismanagement, the Commissioner might well be required to demonstrate to the European Parliament that action had been taken to correct the mistake and to prevent any recurrence, and that, of course, could involve calling officials in the Commission to account for their mistakes, perhaps even subjecting them to disciplinary procedures. Certainly, the European Parliament would need to be assured that appropriate remedial measures had been taken. Thus, the principle of individual ministerial responsibility could be a powerful tool of accountability in the affairs of the European Union.

  VI.  The European Union is, as we have seen, based on conceptions of government that are outdated in the modern world of assertive democracy. It was much influenced by the ethos of 4th Republic France, which legitimised technocratic leadership, and sought to insulate this leadership from effective parliamentary scrutiny; and also by the ethos of consociational democracy which legitimised decision-making by elites, with the role of the electorate being confined to that of ratifying these decisions. It is time for these outdated conceptions to be replaced by the British ethos of parliamentary government, which entails the collective responsibility of the Commission to the European Parliament, and the individual responsibility of individual Commissioners for mismanagement, incompetence or corruption.

  But, even if such reforms were to be implemented, the electors of the European Union might still feel that their institutions were remote from them. For the key decisions on European matters would still be made by political elites, albeit accountable political elites.

  Liberal constitutional theory, however, suggests that power is entrusted to political elites, to legislators, by the people only for certain specific purposes. "The Legislative", Locke claims, "cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated power from the People, they who have it cannot pass it to others".[6] That principle has been broadly accepted as a constitutional convention in Britain, where major changes involving the transfer of the powers of Parliament, either upward to the European Union, or downwards, to devolved bodies in, for example, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, are thought to require endorsement through referendum.

  Constitutional theory, then, seems to require that the endorsement of the people is needed in a democratic polity when sovereignty is transferred. That constitutional principle was well understood by one of the founding fathers of the European Community, Altiero Spinelli, who hoped that his proposed European Union could be worked out by a European Parliament which had been granted a constituent mandate for that purpose through a referendum.

  The implication of this idea is that constitutional changes in the European Union need to be endorsed not only the parliaments of the member states, but also by the people. For the electors of the member states, so it might be said, entrust their leaders with the powers given to them by the Treaties; but they give them no authority to alter the Treaties themselves. That authority can only be given through the expression of popular wishes in a referendum. It would certainly concentrate the minds of European leaders if they knew that constitutional amendments to the Union would have to be put, not just to the legislatures of the member states, but also to the people in referendums.

  Use of the referendum for major constitutional changes in the European Union could perhaps be supplemented by also using it for certain major policy issues. Why should not the Social Chapter, for example, have been put to the European electorate for endorsement in a referendum? Electors in the European Union would have more reason to concern themselves with European issues if their vote was needed to validate them. European Union-wide referendums might then do a great deal to overcome the sense of alienation and remoteness felt by many Europeans; and it could lead to greater identification on the part of the European electorate with the European Union. But, above all, introduction of European-wide referendums into the politics of the European Union would be an explicit recognition of the principle of the sovereignty of the people, a principle without which a united and democratic Europe cannot be built.

  The challenge for the European Union, then, is to find a means to bridge the gap between the machinery of policy-making, which concentrates power in the hands of elites, and the ethos of democratic self-government which entails popular control of institutions. That challenge can only be met by introducing British ideas of responsible government into the European Union, and by a measure of direct democracy, intended not to replace the representative institutions of the Union, but to supplement them and help remedy their deficiencies. A genuine European Union can only be built with popular support. It cannot be built by holding the people at bay.

  VII.  These ideas for making the government of the European Union more accountable are based in part, of course, upon British constitutional experience and the lessons to be drawn from it. But the European Union is not likely to accept British ideas unless Britain can be persuaded to play a more constructive part in European affairs. It is perhaps worth pondering on the words spoken by Winston Churchill at the Albert Hall in 1947, when he insisted that, "If Europe united is to be a living force, Britain will have to play her full part as a member of the European family". These words remain as true today as they were fifty five years ago.

Vernon Bogdanor

September 2001

1   The idea of consociational democracy was developed by the Dutch political scientist, Arend Lijphart. See, for example, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration, 2nd edition, Yale University Press, 1977. Back

2   European Parliament: Committee on Institutional Affairs: Draft Report on The Presidency of the European Community. Part B: Explanatory Statement. PE 119.031/B. Para 6. Back

3   The German political scientist, Karlheinz Reif, was the first to characterise European elections as "second-order elections" in his book, Ten European Elections, Gower, 1985. Back

4   W E Gladstone, Gleanings from Past Years, John Murray, 1879, vol 1, p 233. Back

5   A lurid account of alleged fraud in the Commission, involving misappropriation of funds, corrupt dealings with contractors and "jobs for the boys", is to be found in a book by Paul Van Buitenen, formerly assistant auditor in the Financial Control Directorate in Brussels, Blowing the Whistle; One Man's Fight Against Fraud in the European Commission, Politico's, 2000. Back

6   John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, para 141. Back

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