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Viv Reding quits justice commish role - heads for EU parliament

European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

... is (or was), like other EU commissioners, not elected, does not represent anybody, has no democratic mandate and can never be voted out of office. My interest in anything they say or do is therefore very limited. Sorry for the extreme view.

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Len
Headmaster

Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

Not quite. Elected national governments nominate their candidates for commissioners, with approval of elected national parliaments and an elected European Parliament (remember the elections last month?) have to give their approval to the whole European Commission. In practice, if they don't like one specific candidate the candidate can be withdrawn and replaced by one that does get approval of the parliament.

Once in office the European Commission needs to maintain the confidence of the elected European Parliament. While an individual can't be voted out of office, if the EP doesn't have the confidence in the entire commission the commission has two options, replace the individual or step down altogether (as they did in 1999 after the EP lost confidence in commissioner Santer). This means that in practice they are accountable to the elected European Parliament.

I wouldn't say it is less democratic than the system we have in the UK where the electorate doesn't get a vote on the Prime Minister or any of the other ministers and can't vote individual ministers out of office. In the UK people only get to vote on one candidate MP (for wherever they happen to live) of a party, not the people who form the government.

Less than 11 million people voted Conservative at the last general elections, equivalent to only 36% of the electorate. That's one hell of a mandate, isn't it?

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

I despair of people who claim the EU is democratic because I don't see how it meets any interpretation of that much-abused word. Look at the UK's commissioners in the past. Neil Kinnock. Cathy Ashton. I mean yes, Kinnock was an MP, but who voted for Cathy Ashton? You're claiming that the process is democratic because a democratic government appointed someone with no electoral mandate to a position where they can create laws. You might as well say that my local traffic warden has a democratic mandate, because he was, after all, appointed by a democratically elected government.

The shenanigans in the Commission this time around ought to have convinced anyone with an honest opinion of the EU that they aren't at home to Mr Democracy.

What has happened is that the EPP has agreed to back the socialists' choice, Martin Schultz, if the socialists back the EPP's choice of Juncker. Both are arch-federalists and pro-EU fanatics. The viewpoint of a quarter of the elected MEPs has been entirely sidelined so that the Glorious Project can continue unhindered by any tiresome democracy.

In reality, the whole process is a massive stitch-up. The head of the EU commission has been selected not because he is approved of by the EU parliament but because a dirty back-room deal has been done between the federalists and the socialists to keep the new boys, who won their seats this time round, out of power.

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Len

Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

Of course you can have criticism of the amount of democracy at certain parts of the EU. And some countries have a proper authority to do so. Making this argument from within the UK is ridiculous though.

We have just witnessed an unelected British Prime Minister -of a party that two-thirds of the voting electorate did not vote for- attempt to sideline the wishes of a democratically elected parliament and lobby for more back room deals because he didn't like the outcome of the EU elections. Fortunately he has the diplomacy skills of a fourteen year old so he failed again. Until the UK sorts out its undemocratic mess we are hardly in any position to criticise the EU.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

does not represent anybody, has no democratic mandate and can never be voted out of office

As is true for any civil service, which is what the Commission is.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

I wouldn't say it is less democratic than the system we have in the UK where the electorate doesn't get a vote on the Prime Minister or any of the other ministers

Oh please. UK is a parliamentary democracy. UK MPs are party members and nominate their prospective prime minister before the election. The Opposition even nominates its Shadow Cabinet. So citizens have complete control over who is in power and who isn't, who can be prime minister and who can't, and who get to be in the cabinet and who doesn't.

The EU government (the Commission) is not an elected body. Five years from now, Skippy the Kangaroo could be appointed EU president and there is nothing you could do about it.

Don't like Cameron ? Vote against him. Don't like Junker ? Er...

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

"Don't like Cameron ? Vote against him. Don't like Junker ? Er..."

How can you vote against Cameron? Where is he on the ballot. (outside Walmington on sea).

You can't - you can only vote against the conservative party.

I had a choice to vote for Juncker, I didn't, I voted for Schulz. If you want to complain you should be complaining that because of Dave's stupidity you didn't have a chance to vote *for* Juncker. (Unless you were voting in London). You should also complain that because of the cowardice of Ed and Nick you didn't get a chance to vote for Schulz or Verhofstadt.

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Len

Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

As already mentioned by myself and others, the British Prime Minister isn't elected, neither are the other ministers. The only say the British electorate get is which party should get the most votes (which doesn't mean they will be biggest 'thanks' to First Past The Post). If the Conservative party would decide tomorrow that Micheal Gove is to be the new Prime Minister from next week he is going to be the next PM. Just like the UK electorate never got a say in David Cameron being PM, they wouldn't get a say in Michael Gove being PM.

Add to this the strange situation that MPs, who are supposed to control the government on behalf of the voters, are actively bribed by that same government. In many countries it is not allowed to combine the function of MP and member of Government as it has an inherent conflict of interest. An MP checking on the government he or she is a part of is generally frowned upon. In Britain this is not only allowed, it is almost standard practice. Dozens of MPs are made toothless by giving them a job in government, junior minister here, secretary there.

Do you really think the people of South West Surrey can expect their MP to fight their case if they feel the government is mishandling the NHS? Of course not, their MP is also the Secretary of State for Health.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

How can you vote against Cameron? Where is he on the ballot.

You can vote against Cameron by voting for a UK party other than his. Your vote acts to remove him and his party from power. Full suffrage. Job done.

Where is Cameron on a ballot ? He will be on the ballot paper in his constituency in the 2015 general election.

I had a choice to vote for Juncker, I didn't, I voted for Schulz - unless you are an EU commissioner (also not elected!) this sentence makes no sense.

Some readers think I am making a point about British party politics. I'm not. I am giving a reminder/warning that the basis of the EU is non-democratic, with even the President being an appointee, chosen by other appointees. The problem has been well known since the inception of the EU, and is fully documented in the EU Wikipedia pages.

Full democracy and full suffrage cost many wars. Don't let go of it.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

The Council of ministers chooses (until now) the head of the commission. The EU Parliament does not. This was a power grab. A putsch. Don't mistake it for democracy.

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Len

Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

"You can vote against Cameron by voting for a UK party other than his. Your vote acts to remove him and his party from power."

Yep, and you can vote against Juncker by voting for an EU party other than his. Your vote acts to remove him and his party from power.

"Where is Cameron on a ballot ? He will be on the ballot paper in his constituency in the 2015 general election."

You are mistaken, Cameron was only on the ballot for MP, not for Prime Minister. There is no ballot for PM because PMs aren't elected by the British electorate. They are appointed in back room deals by a handful of people in a political party.

"I had a choice to vote for Juncker, I didn't, I voted for Schulz - unless you are an EU commissioner (also not elected!) this sentence makes no sense."

It makes perfect sense. He voted for a party that had Schulz as a candidate. That is what the EU electorate does. Just like the British people in 2010 voted for parties in Westminster, each with their own candidate. Had the majority of the EU electorate voted on a different party, Juncker would not be president of the EC.

They EU may have started undemocratic, is has undergone considerable moves towards more democracy in the last fifty years. The European Parliament, elected in elections open for every EU citizen over the age of 18, is becoming increasingly powerful against the type of shady back room deals David Cameron appears to favour. They have gained powers when it comes to approving people, policy and budgets. Most recently they have gained power in choosing the candidates for the EC president. Something Cameron doesn't seem to understand, his party lost the election, he should deal with it.

Just like the EU, Britain started undemocratic and has undergone moves towards more democracy. The UK's head of state is still appointed by birth, not by elections, not on merit. The people in the UK government aren't elected. People are still allowed to be minister and MP at the same time. The UK still doesn't have a secret ballot or basic measures against election fraud. Why? Because elections in Britain barely have any bearing on how the country is being run.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't believe democracy is the solution to everything (If it was the first thing we'd do is voting for the members of the England football squad and its coach). The American situation where practically every position is an elected one appears to make matters worse, not better. But, to close your eyes for democratic progress at EU level and complain about its lack of democracy or mandate while Britain is at least as big a mess is stupidity. Something with the plank in your own eye...

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

I had a choice to vote for Juncker, I didn't, I voted for Schulz

- unless you are an EU commissioner (also not elected!) this sentence makes no sense.

Nope. I voted in a country where candidates in EPP and S&D member parties were standing, and they made it clear in their election literature.

A vote for the French socialist party was a vote for the S&D and hence a vote for Juncker.

(By the way, you've confused commision and council - it was the EU council (composed of elected heads of state) who got to propose the candidate for President of the EU commision.)

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

This was a power grab. A putsch. Don't mistake it for democracy.
Power grabs by democraticly elected bodies is how democracy advances - just look at British history for examples.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

What an astonishing argument. Really, truly. You think this is an advance in democracy? Does it bring the corrupt institutions of the EU one step closer to the poor schmucks who pay for their lifestyle?

This was no uprising of the people, and no democratic advancement, no velvet revolution. This was power politics, the powerful and wealthy amassing more power for their own ends. The head of the Commission and his deputy are now Parliament stooges. One chamber controls both forming of legislation and voting on it.

I pity the fools who can't see this for what it is.

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Re: European justice commissioner Viviane Reding...

Yep, and you can vote against Juncker by voting for an EU party other than his. Your vote acts to remove him and his party from power.

No. The victorious Europarty doesn't really win anything except the right to nominate a candidate for president to the European council. There is no concept of removing a ruler or his party from power. The EU has no "parties" in that sense.

You are mistaken, Cameron was only on the ballot for MP, not for Prime Minister. There is no ballot for PM because PMs aren't elected by the British electorate. They are appointed in back room deals by a handful of people in a political party.

No. Cameron can lose his seat like any other MP, or his party can lose. In both cases he is booted out of Number 10 within seconds. He is undeniably and directly elected under full suffrage. (Although you may have a point with the current coalition).

It makes perfect sense. He voted for a party that had Schulz as a candidate. That is what the EU electorate does. Just like the British people in 2010 voted for parties in Westminster, each with their own candidate. Had the majority of the EU electorate voted on a different party, Juncker would not be president of the EC.

No. It is *nothing* like a UK election. To repeat, the leader (or nominee) of the winning Europarty only gets to be nominated to the EU council as a candidate. The council (who are also unelected) then choose who they like behind closed doors. There isn't even a press release. The Council choose who they like, not you. Heck, Shultz could even win the election and they might still choose Junker (I think).

It is an absurd belief that UK elections have no influence over the UK. Many elections in my memory have led to immediate and huge change, eg Thatcher's win in 1979, Blair in 1997, Cameron/Clegg in 2010.

The rest of your post is an apology for non-democracy in the EU. Don't apologise, fix it. EU leaders have got used to being non-democratic, it will be extremely hard to persuade them otherwise. Think of it from their view. They have a great lifestyle, don't have to bother pleasing voters or accounting to anyone. The life of Riley, why should they want to change that ? And how can we force them, since there is no democratic basis on which to do so ?

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Len
Thumb Up

Thank you!

Bringing down roaming charges is a great achievement! I never switch my data off anymore and last week I even emailed from a Eurostar in the Channel Tunnel (sadly only works from Fr -> UK because the Brit phone companies haven't got their act together).

Obviously all the phone companies are advertising that they slashed their rates as if they're the second coming without a mention that it's the EU we have to thank, not the phone companies.

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Re: Thank you!

People who don't travel around the EU on a regular basis are paying for this. It's certainly a victory for people like you, and EU commissioners, but it raises the phone bills of everyone else. It must be nice to be able to write laws from which one personally benefits financially, as Ms Reding has done.

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Re: Thank you!

but it raises the phone bills of everyone else

Nope, this is not the case: mobile telephony and data charges continue to fall around Europe. The network operators were given plenty of time to adjust to the changes and did so largely by offering bundles and consolidating network infrastructure. I certainly get more value from my UK PAYG SIM than I did 5 years ago.

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Re: Thank you!

Just because prices have fallen, that doesn't mean that non-roamers are not paying for roamers. The two positions are not mutually exclusive. Non-roaming telephone users are subsidising those who do roam and it is not an accurate reflection of the costs of the service. The EU is meddling with the markets in order to select its preferred outcome.

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Re: Thank you!

Non-roaming telephone users are subsidising those who do roam…

More nonsense: roaming incurs little or no costs for operators. Therefore, there is no (cross-)subsidy. If there was, then the European Commission might be obliged to act under the provisions of the Treaty of Luxembourg, aka known as the Single European Act, signed for the UK by dear, darling, dead Dame Thatcher.

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Good riddance!

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Anonymous Coward

Let me finish that for you you

"Good riddance! ... to stupid roaming charges and unchecked usage of your personal data."

Much better :)

In an seriousness though, out of all the commissioner who should quit, I suspect she is at or near the bottom of most peoples lists.

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Tuesday, while Europeans using their smartphones beyond the EU will face much bigger bills as local carriers respond to the expected drop in sales resulting from the ruling by upping prices elsewhere.

While that may have been the case in the past it simply isn't true any more. Sure, calls outside the EU/EFTA are still more expensive but I continue to see prices falling around the world. This is down to: EU policy setting a precedent; customers getting smarter and using local SIMs where possible; technological change.

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