Juncker’s expenses are deeply damaging to the EU's image

European Union

As someone who voted to remain last year, I recognise that there are plenty of flaws, which do not help the EU's cause. Juncker's expenses scandal is a small part of that.

Let’s talk about one big one: Jean Claude-Juncker and his expenses. The BBC has reported that Juncker has taken extravagant air taxis, costing the taxpayer a lot of money. The BBC’s Adam Flemming outlines that it’s all within the rules, and that it was a likely necessity.

While this may be true, if EU wants to promote a positive image, it is not helping itself. But Juncker's expenses are just one part of a larger problem that do not help the EU's image, and probably contributed to the UK's vote to leave.

On top of that, while there is a strong psychological and historical argument behind the EU Parliament having two locations – one in Brussels and one in Strasbourg - the move is absolutely baffling to believe. The costs of the move, outlined here in the Telegraph, are quite staggering, and do not help the EU at all. It is an unnecessary extra cost, both in terms of economics and the environment.

As for European democracy, all the elements for a positive, pan-nation democracy are there, but there is one massive problem. The EU Parliament cannot propose legislation. While there is a degree of democratic legitimacy when it comes to the legislation-proposing Commission, which is appointed by member-state governments, a far fairer system would be to give the EU parliament the powers to create legislation, rather than just debate and vote on it.

When it comes to the supposed “democratic deficit”, the EU does not help itself here.

Let’s have a parliament where the EU Commission is made up of elected MEPs. Parliamentarians sit in ideological groups, so it should not be hard to ensure that MEPs from each country play apart in a coalition executive within the European parliament.

The mechanisms for this are floating in the background – they just need to be implemented. A move to such a system would show those on the pro-EU side of the argument that the EU is a true democratic institution, ready for further integration. At the same time, it would counteract attacks from eurosceptics that the EU is undemocratic and unwilling to reform.

Immigration and sovereignty were crucial in shaping the eventual Leave outcome, but there is no doubt that the EU’s financial excesses and chinks in its democratic armour definitely played a role.

There are so many great things about the EU, which should really have been supported more prominently in last year’s vote – the benefits of immigration, environmental and employment regulations, as well as the vitality of global cooperation, should all have been championed much more - but there is no denying that the EU has serious problems, which could be addressed easily.

Brussels – and Strasbourg for that matter – should be warned that if the EU does not sort out its failings, then Britain will not be the last to say "goodbye".