May 30, 2016
On 23rd June the UK has the opportunity to vote either ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’.
Dissatisfaction with the EU, particularly the recognition by some other member countries of their loss of national control, suggest that if the UK votes to ‘Leave’ the EU, then a slow collapse of the EU could follow if other countries move to take a similar exit path.
However, if the UK votes to ‘Remain’, then a very different scenario might play out. The recent split vote, which narrowly avoided electing an extreme President in Austria, might well provide a clue to the future.
Is it possible that the EU will collapse into disorder, driven by the rise of extremist elements (or views like those of the Prime Minister of Slovakia), and partly fostered by a growing realization that the EU is an anti-democratic organization seemingly having little or no interest in the individual?
If so, history may later teach that this UK referendum was Europe’s last chance to secure a peaceful exit from what might transpire to be a very dangerous club.
Before hot-footing down to the polls (or the pub), now would seem to be an opportune time to undertake a Pub-Quiz to see what we really know about the EU. Just click the link in the questions to reveal the answer.
Here’s a quick teaser:
How many Presidents hold office in European Union Institutions right now? (This answer is at bottom of page)
The following might help untangle just a few of these Institutions.
A. The European Commission.
This administrative body comprises 28 appointed (not elected) officials who are the creators and instigators of all new EU legislation. They define the Regulations and EU Directives which are ultimately passed for approval by the European Parliament and the European Council. All members swear an Oath at the European Court of Justice pledging to respect Treaties, and to be independent, representing the general interest of the EU rather than their home state.
Officials are appointed by their national government (one per member country), and are tasked with specific responsibilities. The European Commission employs around 23,000 civil servants. Past commissioners for the UK include;
Chris Patten (1999) – Commissioner for External Relations
Neil Kinnock (1995) Transport and (1999) – Vice President, Administrative Reform and Audit
Lord Mandleson (2004 – 2008) – Trade Commissioner
Who is the current European Commission President?
B. The European Council.
The role of the European Council is to define the political direction and priorities of the European Union. It is responsible for economic policies, international agreements, foreign and security policy. It represents the highest level of political dealings between the 28 country leaders.
It nominates and appoints candidates to high profile EU level roles, such as to the European Central Bank and the Commission. Although the Council itself does not pass laws, it can instruct the EU Commission to make proposals to address issues they raise.
The 28 members comprise the heads of each member state, plus their appointed Permanent Representative, their Deputy, and a Representative for the Political and Security Committee.
It is here that the UK has become the most out-voted EU country, and it has failed 55 times (out of 55 attempts) to block laws. In percentage terms, the UK has successfully voted ‘Yes’ 91% of the time, but what underlies this is the increasing dilution of the UK’s share of voice at the Council, Parliament, and elsewhere in the EU.
C. The European Parliament.
This is the part of the EU that has officials elected by the voters of the countries.
From 28 countries, 741 members are elected every five years.
In the UK there are 12 Electoral regions, and each region is represented by between 3 to 10 MEPs, giving a total of 73 UK MEPs
Each party puts forward a list of candidates, and the electorate votes for the party of their choice. Voters are unable to vote for specific candidates by name (unless the candidate is standing as an ‘Independent”. The votes are allocated on a quota system, and the first seat goes to the first named person on the list, and so on.
Whilst in the EU parliament, MEPs sit within a similar political group, of which there are nine. These 9 are divided into two: The Juncker Commission (with 475 seats), and the Opposition and Non-Aligned (276 seats). There is no specific representation of a country.
The EU Parliament cannot propose new legislation, it can only vote on legislation that has been handed to them by the EU Commission. Legislation approved by the EU Parliament takes one of two main forms; Directive or Regulation. There is also a ‘Decision’ which affects only a certain issue or country at a time.
‘Directive’s are legal acts which require member states to achieve the objectives, but without the EU dictating how it should be achieved.
‘Regulations’ are self executing measures that automatically pass into law without the involvement of national governments.
Who is the President of the European Parliament?
Which UK party has the most MEPs?
Name any of the nine political groups in the EU Parliament (The UK have MEPs in 8 of these groups)
Which city does the Brussels based EU Parliament relocate to once a month every month?
During this move thousands of boxes of information and around 5,000 people are relocated generating an estimated 10,200 tonnes of CO2 every year at an estimated cost of £130m
Why do they do it?
Because it’s in the Treaty, and despite MEPs voting 3 to 1 to scrap it, the French have a veto and seem happy with the arrangement (and the revenue it generates).
What percentage of UK laws introduced between 2010 and 2013 originated from the EU?
Trick Question – The simple answer is that no one knows for certain.
When the House of Commons Library tried to count, they calculated anywhere up to 59%, although that might include regulations that don’t directly affect the UK, such as olive oil or tobacco production.
D. The European Court of Justice.
This is the highest court in the EU, and should not be confused with other similar sounding courts, or the European Court of Human Rights. It has one judge from each member state (28) with 11 Advocate General, although hearings are usually with 3, 5 or 15 judges.
The Court of Justice interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between EU institutions and national governments.
This court prevails over any national legal system, and is the supreme legal arbitrator.
The current President of the Court of Justice is Koen Lenaerts
Answer to the ‘quick teaser’ question – ‘how many Presidents?’ is: at least SEVEN
The only Pub-Quiz question now is :
Will you vote to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’?
(Answers on your ballot paper only please)