Josef Litobarski wrote:I disagree. The EU is unlikely to become authoritarian because there are so many checks and balances in place. No single institution could seize control and implement authoritarian measures without the others holding it in check. To me, the argument that the EU will become bureaucratic, overly-complicated and redundant is much stronger than the idea it may become some sort of authoritarian super-state.
You make an interesting point regarding checks and balances. However, I don't agree. Look at the European Court of Justice. What is the check and balance on it? If the Court operated within the normal bounds that we expect in a country like the UK, then yes, you could say that this institution was an effective check on the others, and that, as it was bound by the law made by the Commission and Parliament, they were a check on it. However, this is not how the European Court of Justice acts. Instead of interpreting the law in the traditional British method of basing its decisions on what the law actually says, it instead applies a teleological approach - this means that it interprets the law in line with what it thinks the purpose of it is, even if this means reading the law in a way totally adverse to the actually wording of it. It is totally at the Court's discretion what it believes the "purpose" to be, but it places heavy reliance on the "ever closer union" provision within the Treaties.
When I studied European Union Law as part of my degree, I was shocked to discover the extent to which it totally disregards the actual written law in deciding what it thinks the law should be, and at the openness with which the lecturers and the textbooks admit this. Indeed, the Court is often described as the most powerful force in pushing forward integration and the expansion of the European Union's powers.
You should very much bear this in mind when you look at a new Directive or Treaty. For example, with the Lisbon Treaty, the UK Government cited it as a document that protected Britain's sovereignty and transferred very few powers to the EU, and, indeed, read in one light, that's exactly what it said. On the other hand, ministers in most other European governments, and EU officials, described it as a treaty transferring significant powers to Brussels and, again, read in a certain light, that's exactly what it does. The point is that these documents are deliberately written so that they can be portrayed in either light - in the former light in countries where the people do not support further EU integration, and in the latter in countries where they do. Once the Treaty is ratified and enters into force, its up to the ECJ to decide on the interpretion, and almost invariably they will decide on an interpretation far more federalist than all but the most ardent federalist had suggested.
Honestly, it's difficult to put across to you how far the ECJ will go in interpreting Directives and Treaty provisions to go far, far, far further than anyone originally contemplated. If you look at some treaty provisions, the interpretation placed on them by the ECJ bears no relation to what they actually said. I remember my particular "favourite" at University was the word "workers". Our lecturer who was I think from Greece used to pronounce it "vorkers". I still draw a distinction in my mind between the two very, very different words "worker" and "vorker", as they bear absolutely no relationship to each other.