Friday, May 1, 2015

A so-called "independent scrutiny board" still is not democratic

From today's Open Europe news summary:

European Commission considers independent scrutiny board to assess new EU laws – as proposed by Open Europe in 2009

A leaked European Commission document reveals plans for EU laws to require a green light from an independent scrutiny panel to ensure they do not impose unnecessary burdens on business before they can be tabled, as first proposed by Open Europe in 2009. The proposal envisages a six-person Regulatory Scrutiny Board, three of whom will come from outside the EU institutions, which will evaluate the cost of existing laws and assess the impact assessments (IAs) for new bills.
The initiative is part of EU Commissioner Frans Timmerman’s Better Regulation drive to cut red tape for businesses – which has been strongly backed by Open Europe. Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta is quoted by EUobserver as saying, “Time will tell if the new Commission is serious about substantively reducing the regulatory burden on businesses across Europe.”

This is a typical end run around democracy. An "independent scrutiny board" would be not be independent. Public choice theory tells us that there is no such thing as an altruistic politician or bureaucrat. Not only would members of such a board still be subject to political pressure, they would have no basis upon which to make their decisions. The so-called facts that they would collect and "scrutinize" are too numerous and controversial.

The EU can never be more than a consultative body of representatives from sovereign nations answerable to national governments who, in turn, are answerable to the electorate. Politics may be messy at the national level, but no one should harbor the illusion that they are absent at the supra-national level. If anything, politics at the supra-national lever are more dangerous because the appointees and bureaucrats are another step removed from the oversight of the people through their democratically elected representatives.

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