D) In order to ensure the health and well-being of EU citizens is protected with regard to air pollution, should the national parliaments, European Parliament, Council of Ministers or Commission be given greater powers? Give your reasons. (One quarter marks)133351905In this essay, I will examine which EU body should be given greater powers to safeguard the well-being of EU citizens with regard to public health, by assessing which institution is the best representation of the public voices. I argue that the national parliaments should be empowered in this context.
To examine which party best represents the majority of the EU citizens, I argue that one should assess the effectiveness of the role and the powers of the institutions. The predicament in question would not have happened had the public voices been effectively taken into account by the EU institution, therefore, the institution that best serves the interest of the majority public shall be given greater powers in relation to the laws governing nation’s health.
Firstly, the Commission is arguably ranked the least in the order. Not only that the Commissioners are not elected by the people, the choice of the Commissioners also lies heavily on the hands of the Commission President, subject to approval by the European Parliament. The Commissioners must also be completely independent, and thus, they cannot seek nor take instructions from any governments, this means that they do not represent their own states, therefore, the executives would not be the ideal entity to best represent the nation’s voice. Moving on to European Parliament (EP), it exercises substantial powers of legislative, budgetary, supervisory, and ensuring the check and balance within EU. The EP is composed of representatives of the Union’s citizen. Not only that the Parliament has demonstrated its ability to initiate new legislation in areas of public concerns before, they had also force substantial amendments to major legislative proposals and obliged the Council to review some important elements of the common positions it has adopted.It seems that the EP could be reliable; unfortunately, the democratic deficit has affected its legitimacy. The representativeness’ of the EP has nonetheless been criticized because the number of MEPs for each state is not proportionate to the population size. The smaller countries are always disproportionately over-represented. The turnout at EP elections has always been low as well, this indicates that although the EP is elected by the people, but it might not be the best representation of the majority voice. We then assess the Council of Ministers. The Council is consisted of a representative of each Member States at ministerial level, who is authorized to commit the government of that state. As Article 16 (1) TEU suggests, the Council could be the most important institution on the law-making process as a result of the determination of member governments to maximise their involvement in decision-making process. It almost has the power of final decision on the adoption of the legislation in most areas of EU policy. However, the problem of the Council of Ministers lies in the tensions between the federal pro-integration perspective of the Commission, and the inter-governmental perspective of the Council. This is because the Commission was in fact in the driving seat although it was the council who had to approve legislation. Besides that, one of the strongest criticisms faced by the Council would be the fierce lobbying issue, which is extremely worrying, because that was arguably one of the main reasons the car emission measure was passed.Since the Council tends to be unduly influenced by the elites, and cannot effectively prioritize the majority interests, this leads us to consider the national parliaments. I argue that the national government should be empowered especially in cases where it concerns public health’. It falls under the Competence to support, coordinate or supplement actions of the member states’. Under the principle of subsidiarity, the EU is only supposed to legislate if action cannot be taken more effectively at the national level, therefore, although the air pollution might be categorised under environment’, which is a shared competence, I argue that the national parliaments should be given more competence to act on this matter with the co-operation from the Council of Ministers. Not only that the national parliament is the legitimate body who possesses the competence to act, they are also directly elected by the majority public, and they should be able to voice objections and hold to account their own government minister representatives in the Council. The only thing that they are lacking, if any at all, is the power to directly influence the law-making decision in regards to this matter although their influences have increased much after the Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaty, but, I still argue that national parliaments should be given greater weight because they are the best reliance of the people among all other institutions in this context.