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The SUPRANATIONAL System of democracy
Five official institutions of the European Community:

The Supranational system has more democratic control than most of the national democratic systems. It has checks and balances of a more robust nature and strength. Its most significant feature is that it is constructed with the specific aim of obtaining the most impartial solution to specific technical problems of common interest to all Europeans.

The national system has an executive, legislative and judicial organs. 

The Supranational Community has a similar division. There are FIVE key bodies in the first and all succeeding supranational communities. These are based on the principle of obtaining the most fair and just outcome, not the seesaw of power politics.

    *the European Commission formerly called the High Authority, acts in the interests of all the Community (the impartial arbiter, executive and guardian of the treaties). Members of the Commission are not designated so they can repeat their own private prejudices or political convictions, nor to reiterate national opinions or sectional considerations; their duty is to seek out the means to express the common good of all citizens, interests and States together. Their experience and knowledge should serve all citizens. Three institutions must give a Legal Opinion before the Commission's proposal can be accepted. This involves democracy at the level of the individual, organized civil society and government.
   *the European Parliament (formerly the Assembly composed of delegates from Parliaments), now directly elected (individual's democracy);
    *the Consultative Committee, representing workers, managers and consumers (civil society democracy but not yet fully elected in the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions);
    *the Council of Ministers, composed of Government Ministers of Member States (inter-State democracy);
    *the Court of Justice  confirms the proposal into law. Its judgements in disputed cases are binding across all the territory of Members States (democratic rule of law):
The representative organs are threefold:
1. The Council of Ministers represents national members, the States. It gives a governmental legal opinion.
2. The Parliament represents individual citizens and their individual interests. At first members were delegated from national parliaments. The earliest treaties, however, direct that the members should be directly elected. It took nearly three decades for governments to agree to this.  It has since developed its independent powers in spite of governments to the benefit of the citizens. It gives a legal opinion based on interests of individuals and party politics.
3. The Consultative Committees are one major innovation; they represent all corporate bodies or collectivities, whether management, unions or consumers. They are a major innovation giving potentially democratic powers to non-governmental bodies in civil society affected by legislation. In the early treaties they had much more democratic power than the assembly/parliament because it was industries, workers and consumers that were most directly involved. In the Economic Community, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions must give a legal opinion on all legislation, like the Parliament. Unlike the Parliament, they have not YET developed their political power and are still selected by governments, usually by party political loyalty or membership. This was not the intention of the original treaties. These legally-required Consultative Committees are important and innovative because, in our modern age, multinational organisations (business, commerce, capital, trade unions, NGOs, religions) are sometimes more important, more powerful than States. Even in Schuman's day, of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, only half were States; the others were companies. Their strategic goals, such as profits for shareholders, expansion or publicity for retention of customers, are different from States. Consumers may want to consume without thinking of consequences for future generations. Workers may have demands that, without adequate care, could damage their own or other industries. Corporate bodies should be part of a healthy, democratic dialogue. Dialoguing with all aspects of interest groups to come to a just solution is now as important as a dialogue of citizens was in the days of universal emancipation. Interests groups (labour, business, consumers and regions) in the Legal Consultative Committees are forced to come to a consensus to be effective revisers of Community measures that are proposed by the Commission. Major work rests to be done in political development. The Committee of Regions assures that regions respect individuals and States. In the EU, some regions are vastly more powerful than some of the small States. Altogether, the legal Consultative Committees make up and assure economic, social and geopolitical impartiality. Instead today governments and the Commission have developed hundred of secret or semi-secret committees of officials. It is estimated that there are around 1500 or these products of 'comitology' now active, greatly reducing democratic responsibility and the rights of civil society in the EU system. 

The major innovation: the Commission
The key feature of the European Communities is the European Commission. It is the proposing institution. The main aim of the Commission is to be able to propose impartial solutions to European problems, usually of a technical nature. It can talk to any citizen, group or nation to assure the impartiality of its proposal. It can even help create forums to this end. The deciding institution is often considered to be the Council of Ministers but it is only in fact one of three organs that decide. The proof of this is that if the Council, for example, refuses to give an Opinion, the Proposal is lost. In the Treaty of Paris give their Assent (Avis conforme or Avis in French). The Council often uses this right of not giving an Opinion. The idea behind these Assents is that all democratic institutions have the power and means to improve on a proposal for the European Common Good and also defend all known interests of citizens, associations and governments. None of the democratic organs has the possibility to propose legislation. Any institution may reject legislation if they collectively decide the Commission proposal is not fair. They can give a Legal Opinion that undermines the need for the Proposal on the basis of moral or legal arguments. Each institution has a responsability to help and to decide legislation by giving an Opinion. If legislation is forced through by some means or other, the Legal Opinion can be read out in the Court, showing why it is not just and fair. Any individual or associative group also has rights to appeal to the Court of Justice.

Some powerful and self-serving States see the Community as a brake on their international political power. De Gaulle, when he wanted a French-led Directorate to govern Europe, is one example. Why is there a restriction at the level of governments and States? Because in any international association in the past, the large States had a habit of ganging up against the weaker or smaller States. The Commission's power of initiative is designed to safeguard against this abuse of power. Once all three democratic institutions, Council, Consultative Committees and Parliament, have given their Opinions, the proposal can still be modified by the Commission taking the criticisms in the Opinions into account. The Proposal becomes law once the legislation is published and available for all including the Court to see. The Court decides that all Opinions have been properly and fairly given. Usually the Council is the last to give its Opinion. This does not mean that the Council decides, although they tend to use this terminology. The final form of the legislation must be agreed by the Commission and the Court. With its controls that legislation must be fair to all, a properly working  Community system is the fairest and most just system that Europeans have yet devised.

Politicians, mostly from the larger States, devised systems to avoid this democratic control. The Council of Ministers has given itself powers outside the Community legal system but within the pillar system European Union (Maastricht/Amsterdam treaties) to come to intergovernmental agreements but these avoid proper democratic control by the Court, Parliament and the Consultative Committees. Areas cover Home and Justice Affairs and International relations.

What is the alternative? To guard against abuse of power, the American constitution relies on alternance of two parties (Republican and Democrat) plus 'checks and balances'. To stop an overly ambitious President, Congress or the Supreme Court was supposed to be able to block his powers. However, sometimes the Congress was controlled by the President's party and could also be highly influenced by commercial or partisan interests. Minorities such as the poor could be neglected.

The European system is not based on political alternance as there are multiple parties in all the Member States. Europe has its own checks and balances but the institutions above all are designed to analyse more closely non-partisan solutions. The main aim is to establish an impartial solution in the first place. The Commission is central to this goal. Commissioners' duty is to find a technical solution that at that time encapsulates the European interest. Impartiality is tested in various forums: the Council of Ministers analyses the proposal from the point of view of national governments. The European Parliament analyses it from the point of view of the European citizens, all of them. The legally required Consultative Committees analyse it from the point of view of collectivities, whether commercial companies, labour unionists or consumers. Each body must come to a consensus, vote by majority or give a joint legal opinion without which no legislation can pass.

Double, triple and quadruple impartiality tests
The European institutions are miniscule compared with the American federal institutions. Yet in many ways they are more effective and more powerful. The EU has forced the USA to rescind discriminatory trade laws that defy justice for European, Japanese and other foreign importers. The 1906 anti-dumping laws are a case in point. No single European State could reverse this discrimination for a hundred years. The US Congress has now changed this law because Europeans, acting together, convinced Americans that it was not impartial. (Europeans had already established impartial, anti-dumping laws in their own common markets.)

How is this impartiality achieved? Firstly the proposal by the Commission has to be as impartial as possible to pass through the other institutions. For Schuman impartiality was practically a scientific discipline. Given enough time and patience, scientists are able to agree about definitions, methods and measurements. The USA created its own volume measure, the US gallon. Throughout the EU, there is one system based on the litre (or the metre, kilogram second system). It is now recognised worldwide. Technical means, whether in the common rules of open trade and human rights, can help Europeans move from the present political situation to a situation based on greater justice and fairness. A consensus, often at first fragile, allows parties with good-will to move to long term strategies and a generalized balanced system, good for all. Innovation and cultural and spiritual growth can take place in this environment of evolving trust. In the Coal and Steel Community, consensus was first achieved in opening each other's markets tariff-free. They created a solidarity fund to encourage economic improvements, housing for deprived workers, and re-training based on impartial criteria. Solidarity is built by working on common projects and rediscovering the necessary pragmatic and just principles to achieve them. Trust in this quickly led to a generalized reconciliation of peoples and a broad common market. First of all the Community had to create a range of standards for the manufacture and sale of various qualities of steels, coals and cokes that were recognized by all Member States. National and company statistics had to be free from cheating. Fair principles for trade and transport had also to be jointly decided.

Impartiality can be confirmed with almost scientific precision by two or more neutral and disinterested judges acting and concluding independently. In the case of the European Community, the Commission's impartial proposal is tested by the judgement of Parliament, the Council of Ministers, and the Consultative Committees. Then each institution has the possibility to look at each other's proposed revision to see if it is an improvement. It cannot force, only try to convince. Once it is decided -- and this is mainly the responsibility of the States' governments acting in the Council of Ministers -- there are still other safeguards.

A Court open to all
It is the Commission, not the Council of Ministers, that turns a Proposal into Law. The Commission does this by the act of publishing its amended proposal in the Official Journal. This final version may be a Directive, Regulation or an Opinion. All the steps of analysis and scrutiny must be complete. All Opinions of the Consultative Committees, Council and Parliament must be received and taken into account. If not, it is not legal. 

The Court is there for any one to shout 'It's unfair for me!' If anyone, whether an individual, a corporate entity or collectivity, or a State thinks that their interest is prejudiced, that individual or other entity can take the matter to the European Court, national court or a local tribunal. The Commission, as an impartial observer, can do the same and often does. It can take States and governments to Court for non-compliance to democratic European decisions.

The judges in the Court of Justice of the European Communities are selected by the nation states. They are not subject to the same type of party political climate as the US Supreme Court. In the original treaty judges, besides the regular renewal of their mandate, cease their function by resignation or death. They could be relieved of their office, if in the judgement of the other judges, they cease to correspond to the necessary conditions of impartiality.

(c) DHP Bron X/04, IX/06, 3/10

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