Is the EU Democratic? Does Your Vote Matter?

Is the EU Democratic? Does Your Vote Matter?


Being a citizen
of the European Union means that many aspects
of our lives are regulated
by a weird entity. It feels like a huge bureaucracy
is making decisions over our heads. Many Europeans think that their vote
in the EU elections doesn’t count, and that the EU
is not democratic. How democratic
is the EU really? And, does your vote
actually achieve anything? In democratic states, public policies are based
on the will of the people. But, the people are not a coherent thing. Countless different groups
are battling for influence and power to establish laws
and rules that benefit them. In a working democracy, there are checks
and balances that are supposed
to create a fair environment where these battles
can be fought. Term limits stop factions
from dominating too much. But all of this ends
at our borders. International politics
are not democratic, but anarchic. No central authority is powerful enough
to ensure fairness, or enforce laws, so the only law is the tyranny
of the strongest, and anarchy. So for most of human history, powerful countries
took what they wanted from others either by extortion or by violence. After World War Two, the United Nations
were founded to overcome this anarchy by establishing rules
on how countries should behave. But since the UN has
virtually no power, and its members
often have opposing interests, it’s usually politely ignored. The EU is a construct that tries
to have rules and laws for its member nations that are actually enforceable, as the European Court
of Justice is able to make binding decisions. Originally, the EU was founded
to ensure peace between European nations and prosperity
for the continent. But it’s also an attempt
to gain international power for its members. It’s like a super state and it’s striving to be democratic
and legitimized by all of its citizens. To do that, it has to solve the problem of
different actors wanting different things. Only, that its members
are countries with very different priorities. So, how does this work? Since the EU
is ridiculously complex, and politicians are even worse
than scientists at naming things, we’ll simplify massively and omit
a lot of details. You can find further reading
and explanations in our Sources Document. OK, if you want to create
a democratic union of independent nations, you have two options. you have two options. One: Let everybody vote
for national politicians who then make decisions
for the Union together. Or, two: Let every citizen vote directly for an independent
institution that’s able to make
binding decisions. Both approaches have
their upsides and downsides, and the EU ended up
with a mix of both of them. Next to the European
Court of Justice, there are four main institutions
that we’ll talk about today. The European Council, which is made up of the heads of government
or states of the member countries. The Council of the EU, with ministers
from the member countries. The third one is
the European Commission, which is the de facto
government of the EU, having one Commissioner
for each member state. And, lastly, the European Parliament. The Parliament
is the only part of the EU that is directly elected
by you, dear Citizen, in the European elections. In principle, all of these institutions of the EU
originate from your direct or indirect vote, be it at the national or EU level. But some
do more than others. For example, you vote for
your national representative and therefore contribute
to form a national government whose head of state has a seat
in the European Council. These leaders choose the president of
the EU Commission and its fellow commissioners, who eventually are confirmed
by the EU Parliament. So, this is a sort of
indirect democracy. You didn’t vote for the Commission, but you voted for the people
who appointed them and for those who confirmed
and police them. So, in effect, 2.5 of the 4
main European Union institutions depend on the member state governments. But since you, as a citizen,
can only directly vote for the European Parliament, the question is, “​How powerful is it?” How much influence
does your vote have? The European Parliament
started out with very little influence but has become more and more
powerful over the past two decades. Today, it has
to approve new laws which can be binding
for the member countries. It also votes on how
the EU budget is spent and on international treaties. All of this makes
the Parliament very powerful and, thus, your vote
very influential, even on an international level. Compared to national parliaments,
one major power is still missing though. The EU Parliament officially
can’t propose new laws on its own which is often the core of the argument
the EU is not Democratic enough and that the European Parliament
should be given more influence. Right now, the member states’ governments
pretty much control the European Union. Giving the Parliament more power would make
the EU, as a whole, more democratic but it would also take power
from member states. It’s not clear
which approach is better. Ultimately it’s for the Member States and us as citizens
to decide how the Union should develop. OK, so can we draw
a conclusion here? As a whole, the EU is not as democratic
as most of its member states. But it is democratic. If you don’t like decisions they make, regarding copyright, for example, you can look up what your representatives
voted for and vote them out. The struggle to make it
more democratic is closely tied
to who holds power over what. The EU keeps changing. You, dear Citizen, are not only voting
on the current politics but also on what the system
will look like in the future. There are many parties and politicians
that vow to make the EU Parliament, and therefore
your vote, stronger. Many others want
to keep it as it is, or even diminish it. It’s for you to decide what you think
is better for the future of the Union. Currently, it’s equally important
for the EU who you vote for at home, because these are the people who have
the most influence in the European Union right now. Opinion At home is also where the EU
is often used as a scapegoat. Politicians, especially
before national elections, like to pretend the EU is all-powerful and mix up rules and laws
over the heads of the governments and citizens. Although, often, they were
directly responsible for what the EU did. Democracy is annoying and complicated, and often very boring. In the European Union, even more so
than in the Member States. But, voting and caring about
how our political institutions change and develop is one of the most powerful things
we can do as citizens. The last few years have shown that
extreme things can happen through elections. We have to decide if we want
to be an active part of this process. If we don’t take part in the struggle
for power that is politics, others will. And we might not like
what they decide for us. Because Europe is
an important topic for us, we’ve translated this video
into as many European languages as possible. A couple of European YouTubers narrated it, and uploaded it
to their own channels. Thank you to Funk and all YouTubers who helped us. You can find the playlist
with all language versions in the description.

Posts created 22892

100 thoughts on “Is the EU Democratic? Does Your Vote Matter?

  1. Playlist with all languages: https://bit.ly/2WFHNK5
    Thanks to all the YouTubers who translated the video! 🇪🇺

    Sources: https://sites.google.com/view/sourceseu-elections/

  2. You have to find out the etymology for the word anarchy because you probably have no clue at all.

  3. There are 511 million people in the EU, None of them voted for Donald Tusk or for Jean Claude Junker.
    Here's what Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union said about the EU. "The most puzzling development in modern politics is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe".

  4. personally I would say no area that big should ever have the same laws it is too broad an area, personally I would very much opt for more of a military union, where they all share a military but nothing else

  5. at least most politicians in the eu are old, have no clue about todays world and wont learn anything because why should they
    they are just going to stay useless for a long time, making wrong decisions and ruining the eu

  6. It'll collapse in a few years. Especially with the next recession. Those pussyfoot Europeans will wake up eventually and realize they need AUTONOMY

  7. The EU claims to be Democratic right up until a country votes to leave. Then it becomes a communist dictator. Good luck escaping that trap.

  8. Anybody here to complain with me about this partial, specious, vicious definition of anarchy and democracy here ? This video is shameful and close to some kind disinformation technique. I'll search who's financing this channel and try to guess why…

  9. The union shouldn't be developed. It should be destroyed. Even if that means the UK, USA, Canada and other countries have to go to war against the EU. Probably best to get on that before you build up your EU army. Fewer people need to die that way.

  10. Yes the EU is very bad, they opened everyone's border and demanded we all conform and called us racist for being worried (and rightly so)…im hundreds of years time when Europe is over run by Muslims, we know who to thank

  11. People feel oppressed by the EU, think of monarchies and empires (like the Brit. one) and how they didn't give anyone a voice. The irony!

  12. The EU is already failing, I dont belive anyone informed on the costs and the lack of self governance can support this totalitarian experiment. altough you rarely hear how an unelected clique of powerhouses have taken control over europe. Neither are you told that the first model of the european union and the way it was first implemented was a blueprint straight from the nazi's.

  13. modern democracy does not give any real vote for the populace. we may vote for the ministers, but the system operated by the ministers isn't responsible for us, but rather for powerful organizations, banks and some influential people we don't even know of. we cannot change the system by voting. either we refuse to obey their commands or we will remain oppressed for it. there's no other alternative.

  14. Rather than all these layers of confusing indirect 'democracy' how about giving Europeans a People's Vote? Ask them if they want the EU or not. Simple eh? That's real democracy. Perhaps Europeans want to cooperate together as sovereign nations, not to merge their countries into a single superstate? It would be interesting (and fair) to know. The truth is that the EU have no interest in democracy. Most of them wouldn't even ALLOW a referendum – as if they should have that choice. The unelected, autocratic, authoritarian tyrants are determined, at whatever cost, to turn Europe into a super-military State, whatever the people actually want.

  15. I'm an American, but I wouldn't be so happy if my own country's policies were determined by a group of other countries. Its one thing to have trade agreements, and treaties that everyone can agree on, its another to sign up for a pseudo world government.

  16. The quality of this channel drops down whenever it deals with politics and ethics subjects…those kind of subjects cannot be treated like science, for which there is one objectively correct point of view. In this video it is presented just the mainstream view of high level institutions and states. Moreover, the use of term "anarchy" as synonym of "chaos" is very wrong and misleading. Anarchy refers to an idea of society based on refusal of hierarchy, and the misuse of this name as synonym of chaos and disorder is made by people that take for granted the impossibility of self-governed and cooperative societies. Just to say the first thing that comes to my mind

  17. The biggest problem with the EU is the un-democratic ECB which is controlled by the largest economy in the EU: Germany. This means that Germany has disproportionate power over the economies of peer states in the EU.

  18. IS the EU bad? The concept of harmony between European countries is not bad. But the EU is currently being used as an authoritarian weapon against the native people of Europe to ethnically replace them with foreign populations. So as of this time, yes the EU is bad.

  19. Small note: Just because the UN has limited enforcement capabilities does not mean it is roundly ignored. Research in political science shows that the UN does have a significant amount of influence, both in real terms (i.e., countries tend to abide by its rulings) and in roundabout ways (countries seek to work within the UN and use its offices to work with one another). A minor point, but an important one.

  20. This is why i wish America was a true democracy. While we vote, it is possible for the majority to lose. I just think that we should not relly on states with higher vote counts (like California and Texas)

  21. Interesting video. I keep thinking our politic system should be way more direct. Today's technologies allows us to set up direct democracy with referendum. People could vote important laws, propose new laws… via Internet. About national and european politic, I think there are things that should be only decided locally, some nationally and some other at european level. This is in a way to provide more accurate politic and bring solutions to problems and matters that only its determined level can answer to the best way.

  22. Yes, but the people who appoint the commission might be elected by voters, but aren't accountable to them. It is a sycophantic oligarchy of impersonal bureaucrats

  23. I dont know if I love the EU, but I do love the idea of European countries becoming somewhat like the United States!

  24. Living in Europe is like living in a prison. Democracy has been dead there for decades. The EU should be smashed to pieces.

  25. These government sponsored videos are so crap and pathetic…..Britain was SCAMMED into joining the Common Market in the first place (and funnily enough it was an earlier piece of shit Tory PM who did that too, nothing changes, right) so just remember the treacherous past of these tory wankers BEFORE you stupidly ask for more…..What are ya , dumbass.

  26. Only ignorant people cannot see the damage the EU does to free speech and a countrys democratic soveriegnty.
    As well as borders .

  27. I'm still thinking about what the EU was after when outlawing the selling of fresh milk… medical issues or favoritism toward big industries?

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