Much has been made recently of the apparent democratic defecit at the heart of the European Union.  Euro-sceptics will tell you that we are being ruled by a faceless, unelected bureaucracy.  It would be instructive, then, to look at the make up of the legislative of the EU.

The European Parliament consists of 785 members, all directly elected by the citizens of the member states.

The European Commission consists of 27 commissioners, one from each member state.  The commissioners are nominated by their national governments and the entire commission must be accepted by the Paliament.

The Council of the European Union, more commonly referred to as the council of ministers, consists of one representative of each member state.  Usually the relevant minister for the topic being discussed will represent his or her nation at Council meetings.

The European Council is made up of the heads of government of the 27 member states.

That would seem to be an awful lot of elected representatives for an apparently undemocratic institution.  The only people above who are not directly elected by the prople are the commissioners, but they are appointed by those whom we elect, in much the same way as an Taoiseach can appoint 11 members to Seanad Éireann and can also appoint any member of Seanad Éireann, elected or not, as a minister in the government.

Whatever fears the European Union my hold for Ireland, a lack of democracy should not be one of them.

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