My first day as a member of the European Parliament!

As I hurtled towards the big EU machine on the Eurostar from London St Pancras, I had initially intended this post-induction piece to be a light-hearted reflection on my first experiences in Brussels. The beer was good, the bureaucracy was bad – that sort of thing.

But in view of the seriousness of the inherently undemocratic structures which govern the EU – and, therefore, the UK – I think it important to focus on a few things about which even eurosceptics may not be fully aware.

First and foremost, the European Parliament is not able to initiate, block or repeal legislation. It may suggest amendments to legislation, but it has no authority to act like a true legislator and its suggested amendments may be ignored.

Laws are proposed by the EU Commission, comprising 28 unelected representatives, one from each member state – typically retired politicians or civil servants. The ultimate approval of legislation lies with the Council of the European Union – again, an unelected body of ministers whose voting rights are based on the size and population of the countries they represent.

The Council may block legislation but, since the requirement for unanimity to pass laws has been steadily replaced by qualified majority voting, even this chamber has great difficulty in acting as a check on the Commissioners. Given the power concentrated in the hands of the Commission, it may not surprise you to know that its building in Brussels is by far the largest – out of a series of very large buildings.

I used to regard the EU Parliament as merely a talking shop: potentially a voice box for dissenters but with their having no ability to perform any real function. In fact, it is not even a voice box. The Parliament is structured in various groupings and unless a given group can muster a large enough membership its members/leaders get very little airtime. It is not sufficient that the system is toothless; dissenting voices are, in effect, also muzzled.

So what does the Parliament and its members actually do? From what I could assess, as a new boy, close to nothing of substance. It does not even meet on a daily basis as you might expect of a national assembly. It only meets in what it calls “plenary sessions” for a few days a month, mostly in Strasbourg, not Brussels. These sessions create the trappings and appearance of a Parliament in action but the EU Parliament is functionless.

This does not stop the parliamentarians from being treated with the greatest of respect by the bureaucrats who support their non-function and provided with generous packages to enable them to “fully” discharge their non-existent duties: offices in their home countries, Brussels and Strasbourg (three offices, in case you lost count); staff in their home countries and Brussels, first-class travel to and from their home countries; a fleet of diplomatic cars to ferry them between the Parliament and the station/airport; and a special travel document which signifies the MEPs’ terrific importance.

It’s a gravy train so well drilled that any mediocre career politician fearful of getting a real job – and for the record I already have a job, having been in business most of my adult life – would fight tooth and nail to retain the EU Parliament.

With such largesse, it is not unknown for eurosceptic MEPs to go native. You can, however, rest assured that I shall be doing no such thing!

As you may have guessed this was not about myself, but was a very interesting piece written by Ben Habib, a new member of the EU parliament. He entitled his article “Joining a functionless Parliament” and some of his facts are quite revealing. No power or authority invested in the MEPs, full power with the unelected commissioners plus an absolute gravy train of expenses. Now there’s a surprise!

Categories: Politics

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17 replies

  1. The Westminster Gravy Train is no better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Only the House of Lords part, but that’s not the issue. We have the power to uproot one but not the other

      Liked by 1 person

      • We have the opportunity to sweep away privilege and abuse of power if we have the courage to give Jeremy Corbyn a chance!


        • You want to live in Venezuela and form political alliances with the IRA, the PLO? You want Diane Abbott as Home Secretary, you want MacDonnell implementing Marxist economics? So do I, because this country deserves it!


        • Corbyn may be left wing but he is a Democratic Socialist which believes in parliamentary democracy with state control of public services. He is not Marxist-Leninist which believed in one party rule and total State control of the economy. Even Marx recognised the role of capitalism but wit co-existence. We really do need to make these important distinctions.
          He is no more extreme to the left than Johnson is to the right.
          No to Diane Abbott I agree but she would never get a place in a Corbyn Cabinet even though she previously made it into his trousers!


        • The distinction we need to make is how left wing Marxists divert attention away from the subjects they don’t want to discuss. The matter here was the profligacy of the EU commission! But deflection is THE standard Marxist tactic.
          And…. read something about MacDonnells economic policies for the UK when he and Corbyn are in power which they will only achieve through Peterborough style postal vote rigging, another totalitarian tactic. But …. I’ve pledged this before …. despite my view of Corbyn I will vote Labour at the next GE.


        • Labour is on a roll and I guarantee that they will moderate when elected to Government. Tories have self destructed!


        • Still deflecting from my post Andrew?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Diplomacy Brian. We have to agree to disagree when it comes to politics!


  2. I’m so disappointed – I thought it was about you. But then, I didn’t have you down as an obvious member of the Brexit party.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting! Maybe the UK should remain in the EU and be part of the shake up that is well overdue.


  4. Very interesting! Not at all surprised about the gravy train.

    Liked by 1 person

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