I originally copied out this quote intending to post it earlier in the week, but in light of (Commission) President Junckers’ invitiation to Boris to go and see how the EU works, it seems even more apposite now. This is how it works:
The mass of technical committees co-ordinated by the [Commission's] Directorates General may eventually feed their proposals up to the next layer in the hierarchy, the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC), which again joins together officials representing all the governments with officially accredited experts and other representatives from the various countries. From there they go to another body of officials, COREPER, or the Committee of Permanent Representatives of each member state, where the directive or regulation is agreed in its final form. Only then may there finally be a chance for elected politicians to pronounce on what has emerged from all these layers of bureaucracy, if a particular proposal is so contentious that it needs to be argued over in one of the endless meetings of the Council of Ministers.
But even here we are only talking about those types of legislation which in theory at least are decided by the Council of Ministers, such as Council Directives which must be implemented or “transposed” by each government into the law of its own country. The Council also issues Regulations, which differ from Directives in that they immediately become law throughout the Community and have to be enforced as they stand. There are also Council Decisions which apply as law only to some specific local situation; and other lesser varieties of law-making such as Council Recommendations, Opinions, and Resolutions.
On the other hand, the same categories of legislation can also be produced by the Commission itself. At least Commission Directives again have to be implemented individually by each state. But Commission Regulations, which as Regulations pass immediately into law binding throughout the Community, are produced by committees of officials meeting in Brussels and may not require any involvement by elected politicians at all. These official edicts represent the purest distillation of rule by bureaucracy imaginable. And in recent years, as we shall see, the Commission Regulation system has become the largest and fastest-growing of all the types of legislation the System employs.
- Booker and North, The Castle of Lies, 1996.
Show of hands: who has even heard of ECOSOC and COREPER before? Yet these are the bodies, comprising appointed bureaucrats, “experts”, and unelected “representatives”, that create much of the law that governs us. Most EU laws are never even seen by our elected representatives – any of them, whether in Strasbourg, Westminster, or any of its subsidiaries – let alone debated or altered.
This is why I saw the 2014 referendum as a dangerous sideshow. No matter what you think of the democratic credentials of Westminster, this is clearly, and quite deliberately, anti-democratic. It has to stop.