debating-europe-debateLast week’s head-to-head debate between British Conservative MP Bill Cash and former Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) John Bruton is now online. You can view the full video below or on Vimeo here. It was a fascinating debate between two politicians with very different points of view; Bruton, who describes himself as an “enthusiastic Euro-enthusiast”, and Cash, who led the rebellion against the Maastricht treaty during the government of John Major.

We also had some questions come in to our panellists from our Facebook page. If you’d like to see just the answers to these questions, then we’ve also published the relevant extracts from the main video below. First up, Virág asked:

Why do we work out ‘preventative’ guidelines like the EFSF & EFSM only when the trouble already shows serious effects on the whole market?

In other words – why does Europe seem to be permanently “behind the curve”?


Next, MandyandPj asked a question that we’ve received a number of times on Debating Europe:

[Should the EU] seek to reinforce [its] mandate with European citizens by insisting that each nation hold a referendum as to whether to remain with the EU or leave? Forcing people to remain in a political system will only work for a short time.

Needless to say, our panellists took completely opposite views on this question. Have a look at the video below to see their different arguments.

What do YOU think? Do we need individual referendums on EU membership across Europe to strengthen the EU’s mandate? Or do referendums undermine representative democracy and grossly simplify complex decisions? Let us know your thoughts on this (or any of the other issues raised in the debate) in the form below, and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!


23 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Patrick Leneghan

    Well I never did think that I would agree with a Tory person but in this case, Bill Cash, I agree entirely as would, I feel, the the majority of citizens within the UK, . It is a pity that his own party does not agree with him though. As for John Bruton, I think that I just heard him say that the people are too dumb to vote on major issues. I do hope that citizens in Ireland can hear this.

    The problems with the EU, as I see it, is the lack of an ideology or economic system that ordinary Europeans will support. What we seem to have, is an United States of America version of capitalism, under the guise of globalization, controlling decision making on economic and foreign policy issues. This, in my opinion, is NOT supported by the majority of Europeans.

    It is not the concept of an United States of Europe that is the problem as I see it, it is under what system(s) that it will be managed. Given that it is systems that run things and humans that manage the systems, then it would not matter too much which European humans managed the systems. What we are seeing today is a demolishing of European values in favour of US of A establishment values and as far as I can tell, this will never be supported (in the long term)

    Worse, this problem has become national problems, meaning that member Nation States have and are, on the whole, behind these changes in values and hiding behind the EU in the face of huge unpopularity at home, blaming the EU for forcing it upon them.

    If that be the case, it is absolutely essential that citizens insist on a referendum of whether to remain in the EU or not. Hopefully, the answer will be loud and clear, leave the EU.

    IF the EU were to provide a clear and precise ideological, (economic and political) manifesto, that all EU nations can agree to. That provides inalienable rights to all citizens, which should include the right to recall representatives, the absolute right to referendum/plebiscites on major issues, especially if getting involved in foreign invasions etc.,then that may save the EU

    The EU was built the ‘wrong way’ around, as with any group, the constitution including values (social etc) should have been clearly defined and any nation wishing to join, should agree totally with the rules of the union before being admitted. If a member nation were to deliberately breach these rules, that nation should be expelled, regardless of who they are.

    John Bruton claims that life is more complicated than that as the reasons why citizens should not have a say as we are not smart enough to provide the correct answers (for whom?). I disagree, keep it simple stupid works, for the people that is but apparently not for those born to rule and worse, organized crime which is laughingly also know as modern day capitalism and globalization, chaos keeps them keeping on.

    Patrick Leneghan

  2. david fuzzey

    Yes we do…but i Cameron will introduce a 3 line whip to try and stop it…as the vote to leave will win.

  3. Giorgio

    ridiculous! when europe is in so much crisis?!? and now we are talking about the referendum in each country? i’m sorry to say, this is no way possible. let us wait until after the crisis before talking about “referendum” and “treaty change”. we have more important things now.

  4. Christos Mouzeviris

    From my experience from the Lisbon referendum in Ireland, people vote sometimes for anything else than the question asked..
    As I am working in the customer services sector, many people were coming and discussing on the day of the first referendum what they voted for! “We gave them a good kick up in the back side” many said, meaning their national politicians, reflecting a deep dissatisfaction with THEM!

    So if a Government puts forward a referendum in an unpopular for it time about a matter regarding Europe or EU, the result may not reflect the true wishes of the people..Then of course there is the issue of information..We do know that our national Governments avoid or do badly to inform about any new Treaty or benefits regarding EU membership..They use the EU as the escape goat many times , to cover their own agendas and mistakes..

    So if you asked right now the people what do they want to do with the euro and the EU, I would not be surprised that we would have much less members in the eurozone and of course the EU…

    Not that I am against referendums overall, I just do not trust the competence of our national Governments to pass the right message through..

  5. Kevin leonard

    The main trouble the electorate have is the trust or should one say lack of trust in politicians. Every step towards the unification of Europe by the political parasites residing in Brussels has been taken without asking any of the electorate of any country excepting Ireland. When questioned about this or that treaty amendment it is always the wording that is changed in a subtle spin doctor way to appease those who question.
    The only beneficiaries of further integration both politically and monetarily will be bankers and politicians.
    The electorate are treat like fools and mushrooms always kept in the dark and fed on bullshit.
    Any political parasite who scaremongers about how worse off Britain would be outside the EU needs to ask himself if he truly believes in a democratic system of government with transparent accountability to the electorate. I say this as the EU in my opinion is even more corrupt than the British house of Wetminster.
    Yes Wetminster because every one of our political parasites believe we the electorate are wet behind the ears when it is they who have no idea what is going on in their own country regarding the feelings of the very people they purport to stand for.
    Over 78% of conservative voters want a referendum on Europe 60% of Labour supporters want a referendum on Europe and I believe it is 45% of Lib Dem supporters want a referendum on Europe.
    Strange how in a so called DEMOCRACY the thoughts of well over 50% of the nation meaning around 30 MILLION are discarded in favour of less than 600 parasites sitting in the house of commons for it is only the political parasites who do not want to hold a referendum on Europe.
    Their reasons for not wanting a referendum vary from it(Europe)not being not an issue at the moment to Europe is an issue that needs sorting Financially before we can go any further.
    If as they(political parasites)say Europe is a good option for the UK to be in then let us have a democratic debate where they can convince the voting public that they are indeed right in their assumption and have the ultimate prize of a yes to European membership vote.
    Don’t get me wrong I am an old fart cynical bastard who may never believe it is right for us to give over our sovereignty to another country, But should the British public decide after a fair and reasoned debate we would be better off in than out then I would advocate a campaign to scrap our own parliament in favour of a Westminster college to administer laws drafted by the democratically elected European parliament and would also ask that no more of the career politicians be allowed access to this governing body.

  6. hari naidu

    Today Cameron will be forced to deal with EU referendum in the Commons. Since Conservatives agreed to an EU referendum, they’ll have problems to oppose the debate in the Commons.
    Should even 20% of Conservatives in Commons vote for the resolution, Cameron and his cabinet will be under siege.
    It seems +50% of the British would choose to get out of EU membership.

    UK is a very serious political constraint to EU Project and ever closer union. I think it’d be net gain for EU if UK chose to get out. Opt out clauses metted out to UK have not only undermined community objective, but UK has worked very closely with Sweden and Denmark to undermine greater fiscal authority of EU. This will end when UK gets out of EU.

    EU will never become a *free trade area*, as desired by UK; ultimately UK will lose its access to Single Market in terms of tariif and trade preferences.

    • hari naidu

      Commons debate has been rescheduled after Cameron returns from Queens visit to Australia. Next week, I guess.

  7. Christos Mouzeviris

    Those “parasites in Brussels”, Kevin, are sent there by the parasites of your own Parliament, Government and political elite…Just reality check for you…

  8. Kevin leonard

    Just reality check for you…Christos Mouzeviris …Members of the European parliament are elected by voters in the UK not the political elite. The main parasites are the ones who live on their extortionate expense accounts and do nothing to enhance the welfare of the ordinary voters from all across Europe who send them there. We in the UK have our own parasites in office in Westminster whose arrogance means parliament is no longer a democratic institution and more like a dictatorship. They would all fit in very well with the Governing parties in Brussels whose main aim is the institution of a federalist states of Europe run along the lines of the old USSR. I am unsure as to where you live christos but I can assure you that there are a great number in the UK who do not wish to live under such a regime. Indeed I believe there are many throughout Europe who are sick and tired of being used as commodities to be bought and sold by the political parasites in all the countries.
    What is happening to the Greek peoples at the moment is in my view a travesty which is no more than an occupation by financial means of one sovereign state by others.So please be assured that my reality is well in check and I know who the enemy are. Along with the bankers it is the political elite parasites who bring about poverty and sadness throughout the world.

  9. Christos Mouzeviris

    And who appoints them as candidates man..?? Apart from a few independent candidate MEPs, all the rest belong to a established political party of your country..Who appoints them as candidates..?? The party itself..They chose who to send to the European Parliament..The Commissioners are appointed by your Government as well, and the Council is all our Governments put together…So who are the dictators really in Brussels..?? perhaps the same dictators that rule our own countries..? The people have very little say if you think about it in EU..only through the EP (EuroParliament) that means 1/3 out the power in EU…
    Time to rethink i guess some things..?? The only reason i support full and further integration in Europe, is because i want to get rid off the established national political elites that rule our countries since WW2 and are so corrupt and used to do dealings to keep them in power, that no progress can be made..We need a political reboot in Europe badly, can’t you see it?
    When we say EU said or decided, we actually mean what our Governments decided, what our ruling elites decided together…Time to take EU in our hands, and have real representatives in EU and the EP…
    Have you notice that the political map of Europe is all “blue” right wing that is..And the few “leftist” political parties also follow right wing policies..There is no real left in Europe anymore..The EPP is the largest and strongest political party in the EP…perhaps we have a share of blame for that too, but they have managed to destroy all credibility of any left wing party in Europe so people are just fed up and disappointed..So we need to do, is give full power to the EP, (thus become federal) scrap the Council and limit the powers of the Commission to a more admin role..Create pan European parties and vote not by nationality but according to whom will represent us and our interests as inhabitants of this continent better…But with minds like yours, that think in a nationalist and conservative way when things went bad and the Markets and the Bankers messed us up big time before, we are going back in circles…You remember what happened to Germany just before WW2….? They had the same attitude like you..Crisis..?? Quick, close the borders, protect the nation, think only of the nation..So Hitler found the opportunity and took advantage..No! Not again..this time we should go the other way…

  10. Christos Mouzeviris

    Just to add above that I meant that the few left wing parties in Government at the moment in Europe…Most countries at the moment have a right wing party in Government..So what do we expect?

  11. Peter Schellinck

    Just listen to the people on the shop floor. Secure a job and allow for ends to meet. We don’t need more referenda or treaties. Start with making the ones we have work for the EU citizens with full social governance. My plea would be to show leadership courage, take up responsibility and make some smart decisions. Europe has the tools in hand and the parliament the platform to implement. Don’t waste more time inventing excuses for the decision to address the public needs. Give the means for SME’s to develop NOW, free up money to invest in education and listen to the unemployed youth. They don’t need national boarders, rather a borderless opportunity for a job, a future. With the internet the concept of boarders has been diluted. So, we have to avoid a “European winter” following an “Arab spring”. With politics delaying decisions now would be a sign of doubt in our own ability and betrayal to the European project, for which the EU population had already given the mandate, patience and still has confidence.

  12. Leonardo Baggiani

    Referenda are important when the subject are “values” (personal visions of life, revisions of the borders between the State dominion and private lives, and so on); when technical decisions are under scrutiny, referenda are just a way for politicians to avoid the responsibility of the decisions. The case here discussed is of the latter kind, and shows the pathetic state of politics.

    Those who are in charge usually defend the EU membership (or do concretely nothing to exit), as they know that the exit costs overcome the benefits, but are unable to cope with the political consequences: EU membership involves rights and obligations including the right of being helped by other EU members and the obligation to do everything possible to avoid the need of external help. Those who want to run for the government seats usually call for referenda; they want to exploit the diffused discontent due to the bad state of the economy, but do not completely admit the consequent costs.
    The point is technical: current welfare States are not sustainable from now to the next decades (see the projected trajectories of public debts); this makes further fiscal policies (public spending) impossible and forces toward dramatic spending reviews. European ruling politicians need fiscal help from the EU, but cannot avoid the spending review; in order not to lose the people’s consent, they need a scape-goat, that is the EU imposing the spending review. The concurrent politicians cannot actually offer alternative policies beyond their rhetoric (in the shoes of the ruling ones, they would face the same problems), and go fight the ruling politicians on the ground of their defence of the EU membership – the elected scape-goat indeed. Common discontent is natural in such an economic situation like the current one; the ruling politicians convey it against the EU, and the concurrent politicians ride it.
    The EU permanently falling “behind the curve” can be used to question the EU membership. It has actually several causes: first, the EU is made up of a mêlée of nationally-biased politicians; second, the relevant knowledge hold by whatever entity is incomplete (see Hayek); third, the roots of the current economic stress lie in the faulty structures of European welfare States, so actual preventives can only be taken at national level (EU interventions can at best mitigate some effects but cannot actually fix the problem).

    Finally, EU membership is a technical matter, it must be evaluated by political and economic technicians, and has become the subject of referenda because politicians are not willing to fully expose the situation of the states then take the necessary – consent-losing – decisions.
    The subject of this discussion has therefore nothing to do with democracy; the result may completely change depending on the moment, and the moody swinging of incompetent opinions is not consistent with democratic life.

  13. Stanislav Maselnik

    As a convinced supporter of federal Europe and an equally strong critic of the EU in its present form, I have no doubts that in the long term, the integration project can work only if it is built on popular, democratic grounds.

    Unfortunately, the EU has been a technocratic project from the start. Based on the neo-functionalist spillover theory that a political integration will somehow naturally follow the economic one, European people and their wishes were put on a second line. Instead of serving as a cure to numerous political problems suffered by European nation-states, such as alienation of the political elite from citizens, artificial technocraticisation or ‘expertisation’ of decision-making, or sectoral interests of corporations and financiers having privileged access to parliamentary representatives, the EU seemingly only deepened these ills and put them into a far greater, transnational distance. Instead of tackling issues that receive added benefit on a continental scale, EU institutions produce endless minute regulations of internal market of the kind of quality standards for cucumbers (they are allowed a bend of 10mm for every 10cm of length!), or now legendary proper measurements of the European banana. This makes of the principle of subsidiarity, officially enshrined in the EU treaties since 1992, an empty shell that can be potentially used to justify any intervention under the argument that the Union is better placed to intervene in those affairs than a member state or local authority.

    Lacking a clear reference to the European civilisational identity, which, notwithstanding eurosceptic critics, is more deeply rooted in the European continent than relatively new national identities, the long-term tenacity of people’s belief in European integration against these saddening facts of its actual realisation is rather a proof of the symbolic strength of our civilisation’s identity than a sign of its rejection. People of Ancient Athens, Aristotle, or modern civic republicans such as Hannah Arendt well knew that the best way to ensure citizens’ identification with their polity is allowing them to actively participate in its political affairs. Advocates of representative democracy are always very quick to come up with claims that people are not knowledgeable enough to rule for themselves and that they need experts who will ‘kindly’ take that burden off their shoulders. As if political rule was not as much or even primarily a question of telos (purpose or aim) as that of expertise! The very idea of life in a democratic polity is that political questions are not a matter of experts to decide (contrary to their implementation). No number of experts will be able to make a purely technical decision on issues such as, for instance, the creation of a common federal political entity (or exiting from it, for that matter), engagement in foreign military interventions, or deciding to bail-out the banking system by privatisations and slashing the public expenditures. It requires a stupendous amount of arrogance to claim that providing answers to these questions is a matter of following some correct, rational and technical procedure rather than and first of all a question of values.

    Our values are common and accessible to the whole society as they come from the plentiful soil of literature, religion, myths, culture or tradition. It follows that if political decisions are always made through values, based on who we are, it is the society as a whole that is best placed to discern where these values politically lead it to. As any social entity, parliamentary assemblies are prone to think first of their own sectarian interests rather than those of society. If people give that power away to their representatives, instead of delegating it on the condition that these representatives will continue to respect their political will even after the election, there is no longer any democracy and instead a term-limited reign of government or parliament. In this way, referanda are a powerful instrument of participative democracy that are well placed to ensure that MPs and MEPs remain representative of citizens’ interests.

    Clear yes then – referenda are not only the right answer for individual nations to decide on their EU membership, but also the only right and possible answer for making key political decisions in the EU as a whole.

    03/11/2011 Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta, has responded to this comment.

    • Leonardo Baggiani

      I cannot consider decisions on “the creation of a common federal political entity, bailing-out the banking system by privatisations, and slashing the public expenditures” as matter of values. Of course, by a genuine liberal point of view (especially of the Austrian kind) we cannot think that whoever expert or bureaucrat can take a perfect decision as he/she does not possess all the relevant knowledge needed, but the man on the street is even less prepared and would choose just by the suggestive sound of the words or what he figures our the reality is. Just saying “yes to federation” has not the same meaning for everyone (moreover politicians are usually good at keeping definitions blurry), and can be dramaticly different from the actual content of the federation which will be implemented. A further example: are we really sure, for instance, that a referendum on whether to cut public spending is a proper way to decide what to do when markets are punishing your high budget deficit?

      Of the two ignorances, even though we cannot rely too much on bureaucrats or technocrats, we must admit that gut-feelings of the people are even worse.
      Anyway, saying that I prefer certain “framework” decisions to be taken by “experts” does not mean that we must give them the power to decide everything, as from just a slightly deeper detail (not to mention the crazy measuring of bananas) no super-individual decisors have got enough knowledge to decide (the Hayek’s knowledge problem) so the State or the super-State should leave the most room possible to citizen to arrange their own economy.

      Decisions on “engagement in foreign military interventions” has foreign policy implications but involves also a great deal of human values (you decide to go somewhere, generally uninvited, and go kill people), so a referendum may be proper.

      I suggest not to blur different problems: human values, culture, technical problems, knowledge problem and the necessity to decentralise decisions the most possible cannot be cooked all together in one single answer to whether ask for a EU membership referendum. The matters partly overlap but it is not a good decision to convey everything through the referendum channel. We can have both a “technical decision” to be part of a federal Europe and cut public spending while letting people decide of their own personal (as human beings) and economic (as banana consumers) lives both counting their coins and following their gut feelings.
      Put it briefly: the extent of the power the State is a subject of discussion different from what part of decisions can be taken through a referendum.

    • Stanislav Maselnik

      Thank you for your articulate response, Leonardo. I understand your argument, but fundamental differences between us will remain. You note that the cases I pointed out are examples of issues that experts can ‘better’ decide than regular citizens. Thus you also seem to argue that there are decisions that do not include a normative element (where do we want to go? why do we want to get there?) and can have but a technical solution like solving a puzzle or mathematical equation. Or perhaps, proceeding in the line of though of thinkers of Enlightenment, you might say that there is one ‘rational choice’ to be found by those who can dispassionately exercise their faculty of reason. This seems to me as being the justification behind your answer that the question of entering or exiting a federal European polity is simply a matter of accounting – a cost/benefit analysis of sorts. But why at all should the calculation of costs be the first or sole factor determining the country’s membership? Such statement presupposes an implicit value-judgement made by ‘experts’ on the primordial importance of egotist, economic self-interest. Perhaps that is a fair option, but far from the only one. There are also geopolitical, cultural, environmental and other aims and factors, which might have an equal say in the vote and for many (me included) they have greater importance than the pure costs.
      Since the basis of every decision is telos, normative judgement, it is the society as a whole that is best placed to tell what its goals and aims are. And contrary to costs, values are non-arguable – if a community or individual values national sovereignty more than energy and defence security provided by a membership in an EU, it is the end of the discussion and no amount of haggling with numbers (‘expertise’) will be able to convince the people otherwise. Explicit justification of the values’ benefits comes only as an addendum and will influence no one who does not already share the goals thus defended. In the final count, the fundamental question of democracy is whose goals prevail – those of the people, or those of some sectarian interest? To make a final remark, in my opinion so called experts and professional politicians already have a pretty bleak track-record in taking normatively justifiable decisions – ranging from the warmongering Tony Blair in Britain, to the inability of Merkel and Sarkozy in reaching an agreement on a solution to the systemic crisis of the eurozone.
      What I therefore see as being hidden behind these pretensions to expertise are unacknowledged prejudices – that is, value judgements. As thinkers like Martin Heidegger and Hans Georg Gadamer well shown, financial, military and other experts, politicians and ordinary citizens alike are all embedded into a shared cultural matrix that gives their actions meaning and value. So who should make political decisions, when all decisions are value-based? In democracy the answer is obvious – it can be only citizens themselves.

    • Leonardo Baggiani

      I just specify: when I say “costs and benefits” I use an economic definition, not a financial one i.e. I consider also geopolitical variables and so on… and I sincerely cannot understand how the man on the street can evaluate the geopolitical consequences of some decisions (if so, we could live without politicians).

    • Silvano Fait

      “if so, we could live without politicians”

      That sounds good…

  14. Protesilaos Stavrou

    There are a few problems with referenda that need be clarified before answering the principal question of whether EU membership should be decided through such a decision-taking process.

    First a referendum though it has always been seen as the ultimate expression of democracy, isn’t in fact democratic, since people do not really put forward their desires and their ideas, but are rather called to decide on two predetermined alternatives they had no impact on. A referendum would have been democratic if the options included, where themselves the outcomes of localized direct decision making, using the power of the Internet and/or other media to collect the views of the everyday citizen at the lowest possible level. For as long as the options and the content of a referendum are decided by a selected minority that in many cases is comprised of unelected bodies completely detached from the individual voter, then such processes are democratic only in name not substance. But for argument’s sake let us assume that a referendum is indeed democratic and since we want to call our societies democracies we should use this method of decision-taking on a regular basis or at least on important issues. The second problem that immediately emerges exists in asymmetric information and the over-simplification of things that cannot be over-simplified.

    Asymmetric information and technical difficulties: How can citizens decide on EU membership when they do not know every aspect of it? I am not saying that people are incapable of making the right decisions, I am only raising an issue of technicality since let us not forget that the EU Treaties comprise of a vast legal corpus which is hard even for law experts to grasp in full. Now let us assume that these documents are presented in a way that is understandable to everyone, to reach the next aspect of the technical issue: How can one evaluate the implications of these rules without having full or good knowledge of the issues these rules affect? How can one decide on CAP or Schengen or the Euro or any of EU realm of policies without knowing the direct and indirect effects and implications. This of course does not only apply to citizens but in many cases holds true for politicians and political parties.

    Over-simplification: Albert Einstein famously said that “things should be made as simple as possible but not any simpler”. A mere “yes” or “no” on EU membership violates Einstein dictum in three ways: (a) It over-simplifies the EU itself. EU is not a monolithic organization. It rather consists of numerous institutions dealing with a variety of issues in a number of dimensions. In short the EU is a very complex nexus that involves diverse power groups of all sorts. So which EU will citizens be called to decide upon which again brings us to the question of asymmetric information, (b) It does not clarify in any way what are the costs and benefits of membership and of non-membership. A work which again requires a deep understanding and analysis of the EU and the state’s policies and objectives, (c) it over-simplifies the answers. The options the citizen is given in a referendum do not state his/her intentions or preferences. This is true not only in the case of a mere yes-no binary but also in more expanded answers. The point is that the options available will always be vague, allowing anyone to interpret them at will, effectively distorting the possible message citizens wanted to send, assuming they all had the same thing in mind when choosing a particular option which frankly speaking is never the case.

    Let us consider for instance that all of the above are somehow dealt with so we can proceed to the fundamental question “Do we need Referenda on EU Membership?”. This question is in itself problematic for it fails to shed light on a series of interrelated issues. How will a referendum solve let’s say the crisis in Greece? Or how will it make the Common Agricultural Policy a rational plan of allocating resources, instead of the wasteful anachronism it now is? Or then again is a referendum a prudent option in times of social unrest where extreme sentiments often prevail over reason? Driving this train of thought towards its logical conclusion will only lead us to a mere “No”.

    What we need in Europe is not referenda that ask vague things and provide dubious options; we need an organized civil society, critical and demanding citizens that will demand a bigger say at the lowest possible level, which will effectively cover a considerable part of the current democratic deficit of the EU. Democracy is not exercised every four-fives years or whenever there is a referendum. Democracy is an everyday struggle where every individual has the duty to decide on what the common good is, while at the same time effectively working for his/her own well-being.

    A collective of bureaucrats sending dictates from a “command center” in Brussels is certainly not a good thing. However referenda are for sure not the answer to it. The illusion of choice a referendum gives does nothing to address the fundamental democratic problem of our times: that unscrupulous big interests have the capacity to influence in the any way they want our cumbersome, big governments/bureaucracies.

    Issues are so subtle and complex that cannot be brought down to a mere binary of “yes or no”. This does not mean that citizens are incapable of making the right decisions for themselves. It is only a reminder that citizens need to become active in political life, so as to improve their states and eventually the EU as a whole.

  15. John Palmer

    If “the man on the street” is considered capable of reading party manifestos and making a conscious decision of whom to vote for, then he is also capable of taking part in a referendum. This is a straight question of politicians with too much to lose. They fear that the electorate may well get a taste for referenda, which would seriously undermine the need for so many of them. they can see that, with progress in technology, government by consensus is just around the corner. Then there will be no more second home allowances and the like. Just good old democracy.

    • Leonardo Baggiani

      Who says he’s capable to vote a candidate? He just needs do it given our “representative democracy” setting. He has to fully delegate somebody who will take political decisions… this is an obbligation and a right; in most cases I see no reasons for the elected not to do their work, and I more precisely cannot share this populist view that everyone can decide on everything (which is also impossible: this is Europe, not a few thousand people town in ancient Greece).

  16. majid

    I sure, this is very better that uk join to Eu and this union can be similar to usa because this economic become $ 18 trilion and even greater than Usa.

  17. Kevin Adamson

    Yes I think its time all countries in the EU had a referendum on the continued assimulation into a fedral Europe . We need to know wether we are going to complete the transition into a fedral state or remian as independent soverign entities . We cant be both ,the people must decied which way we move forward .
    The UK has had a democracy for hundereds of years and we have much to lose ,unlike our friends that have lived under dictatorships in other parts of Europe.Dont blame us for being nationalists its in our genes . The euro has forced our hand and the hand of all member states ,political unity is the only way it and its members will be saved . All EU members must either join the euro or get out of the EU alltogether and that being such a big decision must be put to the people ,all the people of Europe. Good luck .

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