Julien Frisch posted a comment on yesterday's item about European immigration to which I would like to respond.
My assumption was that many ordinary Europeans view the Court of Justice and the Council of Europe as 'outsiders.' Given that opinion polls show that a significant proportion of Europeans don't know the most basic facts about the EU, such as how many countries belong to it, I find it hard to believe that they are conversant about the role of either the Court or the Council of Europe (which is not an EU institution). Nor, looking at indicators such as the low turnout (by European standards) for European Parliament elections, is it easy to adduce much enthusiasm for the EU.
These indicators are related to the EU's so-called 'democratic deficit.' The EU brings many benefits to Europeans, but often fails to get the recognition it deserves. I think the public's inability to weigh in - to accept or reject EU proposals - contributes greatly to its disenchantment.
Just look at the ratification process for the Lisbon Treaty. European leaders did their best to keep their publics from actually voting on it for fear they would vote no, as the French and Dutch did on its predecessor, the Constitutional Treaty. When the Irish did vote, and voted no, the EU political elite made it clear the Irish would be punished unless they voted again and got it right.
Mr Frisch also objects to 'non-European associations' weighing in on such issues. For the record, I am a person, not an association. And, much as I am sure he has opinions on U.S. politics - I cannot believe he doesn't have one about George Bush - so do Americans on European politics. Long live the blogosphere!