Democracy is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union. All the member states have always the right to vote and the members of the European Parliament are elected by direct public ballot.
The EU’s activities are governed by the following three democratic principles:
- Equality – all citizens must be treated fairly by the EU institutions .
- Representation – the role of the European Parliament and the position of national parliaments will be strengthened. The members of the European Parliament are elected by direct public ballot.
- Participation – the citizens have the right to take part in EU’s decision making and receive information on all the activities of the European Union. The citizens are given the possibility of making citizens' initiatives. Efforts are made to develop the dialogue between the citizens and the EU.
The Treaty of Lisbon clarified the legal powers between the member states and the European Union.
The European Parliament plays an important role in making democracy work in the European Union. The members of the European Parliament are elected by direct public ballot. They represent the citizens of the member states. The elections are held every five years. The European Parliament passes EU laws together with the Council of Ministers . The Parliament also confirms the budget of the European Union together with the Council. All international agreements are also approved by the European Parliament. So far every founding treaty has increased the powers and influence of the European Parliament in the EU’s decision making. At the same time, democracy has increased.
The Treaty of Lisbon underlines the role of the national parliaments. Now they can take more active part in the workings of the European Union. EU measures are taken only if they are more effective than national measures in moving ahead. A national parliament can have a say in when action should be taken at the EU level. The national parliaments have the right to receive information on the decisions made by the representatives of the member states in the Council of Ministers.