Thanks to Paula Kirby, a member of one of the SY2E – Remain in the EU groups.
I’d like to correct a very widespread misunderstanding.
It is not correct to say the EU is unelected. It is true that the EU Commission is not directly elected, but its members, the Commissioners, are all nominated by elected national parliaments and then have to be approved by the elected EU Parliament. And it cannot make any laws or regulations. It can propose them, but only the elected EU Parliament and the Council of ministers can approve (or reject) them. The EU Council, consists of the elected heads of the elected national governments. So ultimate control of the EU Commission rests firmly with elected bodies, some of them at national and not even EU level.
It’s also important to understand the areas of responsibility (“competence” in legalese) where the EU makes laws and regulations. All EU members have opted – following votes in their national, elected parliaments – to delegate responsibility for certain (but most definitely not all!) policy areas to the EU. The “competences” delegated to the EU relate to things such as the Single Market – which by definition could not work if each member state made its own rules – and issues that can be far more effectively addressed in collaboration rather than as individual nation states. Things like climate change and counter-terrorism, for instance.
This doesn’t mean that national governments can’t and don’t implement their own specific legislation in these areas to supplement the EU legislation, but it does ensure that certain basic compatibilities are in place so that all EU members really are pulling together and achieving agreed minimum standards on these issues that affect us all. It makes total sense for “competence” for such matters to be at EU level, as that is the only way to ensure cohesion and consistency and therefore far greater effectiveness in dealing with these transnational issues.
And remember that, even in these areas, no legislation or regulation can be passed without the approval of the directly elected EU Parliament and directly-elected-at-national-level EU Council, in both of which we have the same degree of influence and veto as any other EU member, and actually have a strong track record of exerting that influence.
Legislation for the good of the individual countries on issues that have not been delegated to the EU is and remains the responsibility of individual national governments.
I hope that helps to settle your concerns on those issues.