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Data Protection, Convention on

The Council of Europe's 1981 Convention on Data Protection aimed to limit the ability of organisations to hold or circulate data on individuals without their agreement. The convention was generally welcomed as a contribution towards curbing the irresponsible use of a mushrooming mass of personal information and was reflected in various pieces of national legislation (in the UK's case, the 1984 Data Protection Act).


A narrowly focused instrument of Community law which directly affects those to whom it is addressed, without the need for national enabling legislation. (See also Directive and Legal instruments.)


A recital of points agreed by the European Council, often annexed to a Treaty. Declarations have no status in law, but create a framework for Community legislation and policy formation. More rarely, a Declaration may be made by an individual signatory to clarify its intentions with regard to a Treaty provision.


Increasing the degree of integration between the EU's member states. Sometimes contrasted with 'widening', or enlarging the number of members, on the theory that the two aims may be incompatible. The basis for this presumption is that new members, especially from Eastern Europe, are unlikely to be able to comply with the acquis communautaire, for example to meet the criteria for adopting the single currency: thus their accession would undermine the integration process and contribute to a 'two-speed Europe'.

The opposite theory, orthodox in Community circles, is that deepening is a necessary pre-condition of widening. Decision-making in the EU is already cumbersome and would be paralysed with the addition of new member states, each having powers to block legislation or joint action. Hence (so the argument runs) the need to accelerate integration by substantially removing the national right of veto before the new countries are admitted. (See also Variable geometry.)

Defence policy

See Common Foreign and Security Policy, NATO and WEU.

De Gasperi, Alcide (1881-1954)

Raised in a region which changed hands in 1918 from Austro-Hungary to Italy, De Gasperi was a member of parliament first in Vienna and later in Italy, where he became one of the founders of the Popular Party. Jailed by Mussolini in 1927 for his opposition to fascism, he was released on the plea of the Pope and spent the years up to and including the war in the Vatican library. There he formulated the political design that was to lead to the creation of the Italian Christian Democrat Party. From 1945 to 1953 he was prime minister in eight successive coalition governments.

De Gasperi shared with his friends Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman a devotion to Catholicism and European unity. His vision was of a gradual process of voluntary integration between European nations. Well aware how close Italy had come to falling under Soviet domination after the war, he was also deeply appreciative of the support of the USA and rejected the concept of Europe as an impartial counter-weight to the two superpowers. De Gasperi is generally regarded as Italy's most admirable statesman of the century and the man responsible for laying the foundations of his country's reconstruction.

De Gaulle, Charles (1890-1970)

The illustrious career of Charles de Gaulle, president of the Republic of France from 1958 to 1969, who ended the civil war in Algeria and was the architect of his country's recovery of self-confidence after its retreat from Indo-China, needs no repetition here. During his long wartime period in the UK as leader of the Free French he had unrivalled scope to assess the nature of his hosts, with whom - including Churchill - his relations were often far from easy. His acute sense of nationality enabled him to recognise the same spirit in others. Seeing France as temporarily weak, he wanted no rival for leadership in Europe. Hence it was mainly Realpolitik which motivated him to veto (in 1963 and again in 1967) the UK's application to join the EEC. Additional factors were the UK's ties with the Commonwealth, its special relationship with the USA and its predilection for free trade, which threatened the Common Agricultural Policy and ran counter to French mercantilism. In retrospect, de Gaulle's judgment that the UK and the Community would not be ideally suited to each other is hard to fault.

De Gaulle's independence made him a difficult colleague in European counsels, especially since his reign coincided with the Commission presidency of Walter Hallstein, that keen advocate of full European integration. The two men first clashed in the early 1960s over the Fouchet Plan, in which de Gaulle tried to amend the Treaty of Rome, reduce the Commission's powers and put authority in the hands of national parliamentarians. Rebuffed, he sharpened his proposals, aiming to weaken the Council of Ministers and end the supremacy of Community law. At the same time he suggested revising Europe's defence arrangements to sideline the UK and the USA.

The collapse of de Gaulle's initiative led to paralysis in the Community and fierce infighting. France threatened to leave the EEC, boycotted meetings and blocked the extension of qualified majority voting. The crisis was only resolved by the 1966 Luxembourg Compromise, which preserved the veto if national interests were at stake. The same year, de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO's integrated command. Not until after his retirement in 1969 did the Community start to recover its poise and invite the UK to resume its quest for membership.

What's the point of Europe? It must serve to prevent domination either by the Americans or the Russians. General de Gaulle to Alain Peyrefitte, 1962

That even de Gaulle (despite his close alliance with Konrad Adenauer, marked by the 1963 Treaty of the Elysée), like Margaret Thatcher, signally failed to deflect the Community from its path showed that it is easier to promise than to achieve a halt to the advance of federalism. (See also Soames affair and 'Empty chair' crisis.)

Delors, Jacques (1925-)

After periods as a socialist in the European Parliament (1979-81) and a left of centre finance minister in President François Mitterrand's administration (1981-5), Jacques Delors became president of the European Commission in 1985 and, having had his office twice renewed, served until 1995. During his presidency the European Union was enlarged and significantly deepened. He oversaw the Single European Act (1986), German reunification (1990) and the Maastricht Treaty (1992), and the Delors Report of 1989 made important recommendations on EMU (Economic and Monetary Union).

The only child of a working-class family, Delors did not have a university education, though he was intelligent and metaphysically inclined. From his early years he was much influenced by his 'personalist' Catholic faith - a doctrine which stresses communal (as opposed to collectivist or individualistic) values. In his maturity, he came to conceive of the moral body politic as the product of 'solidarity' between different groups with interdependent stakes in society. Economically, he absorbed the disastrous lessons of Mitterrand's primitive anti-capitalism without ever becoming a genuine convert to free trade. No instinctive friend of parliamentary democracy, he was sensitive to criticism and instilled fear, as well as loyalty, in subordinates. His passionate work ethic, his determination and his consistent integrationist vision ensured him an ascendancy in the Commission unrivalled since the heyday of Walter Hallstein.

After introducing the Single European Act, with its crucial extension of qualified majority voting, Delors' next step was a package of reforms ('Delors I') to enlarge the resources and lengthen the planning cycle of the Community budget, as well as to sharpen the targeting of the structural funds. He then turned to EMU, but although he got the Maastricht Treaty through, it was not a triumph for him. Its social dimension was slim and neither foreign affairs nor justice were 'communitised' to his satisfaction. He was also disappointed by Germany's insistence on monetary and budgetary austerity. The EU now entered a bleak period of unemployment and exchange rate chaos during which the Treaty's ratification nearly failed. Nevertheless, Delors saw to completion a new budgetary package ('Delors II') and the GATT Uruguay Round, before closing his Commission career with a paper entitled 'Employment, Growth and Competitiveness', in which he promoted a 'social market economy' boosted by programmes of public works.

Delors inherited from Jean Monnet the 'spillover' theory that integration of markets would lead - if necessary by stealth - to social, judicial and finally political unification. That it did not do so under his tutelage showed the limitations of the theory, once integration reached the point where it impinged on the consciousness and the choices of ordinary citizens. Moreover, though he reflected more deeply than his contemporaries on European questions, he approached the problem of the 'democratic deficit' from an elitist standpoint: in the last resort, it was not a standpoint from which a solution would be possible.

Delors' unpopularity in the UK owed something to Margaret Thatcher's antagonism, echoed by the tabloid press, but probably more to his patent distaste for liberal Anglo-Saxon ways, allied to the dawning British realisation that his model of the EU comprehended political as well as economic fusion, objectives at odds with the UK's traditional concept of parliamentary sovereignty. His quintessentially French perspective also led to suspicions, belied by his integrity, that he used his presidential position to further French interests. In reality, he perhaps showed more partiality towards Germany, owing to his 'blood brotherhood' with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his sense that, while he personally held the key to German reunification, Kohl held the key to the realisation of Delors' own European dreams.

'Democratic deficit'

The 'democratic deficit' refers to the loss of legitimacy arising from the transfer of powers from sovereign nations to the supranational institutions of the EU. In the early days of the Common Market such transfers were mainly to do with coal, steel and agriculture. But as their scale grew with the Single European Act and the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, the devaluation of the nation state began to impinge on the consciousness of ordinary people. Referendums in Norway and Switzerland rejected membership of the Community largely because those countries cherished an ideal of their own sovereign democracy: and the cliff-hanging referendums on the Maastricht Treaty in Denmark and France showed that the erosion of national self-government was reaching the limits of public toleration in the existing member states. The hostile British reception to the encroachment of the Community in many areas touching everyday life suggested that centralisation could not proceed much further without the risk of the population becoming so alienated as even to contemplate withdrawal from the EU.

Several possible solutions for the democratic deficit have been proposed. An approach favoured by Germany and The Netherlands is to compensate for loss of democracy at the national level through increasing the powers of the European Parliament. This would greatly complicate the EU's already over-cumbersome decision-making processes, unless the Commission and the Council were prepared - or forced - to cede significant parts of their authority. A more conclusive objection, however, is that the Parliament suffers from a credibility gap. MEPs are elected on domestic, not European, issues. With one representative (chosen by the party list system) per 600,000 voters, the local MEP is a remote figure, let alone the foreign MEP. There are no Europe-wide parties or coherent political platforms. And the Parliament's unfortunate reputation as a travelling circus with inflated expense accounts (the product of its split location in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg) makes it an object as much of ridicule as of respect.

I have never understood why public opinion about European ideas should be taken into account. Raymond Barre, former French premier and European commissioner

A second approach, favoured from time to time in various forms by France and the UK, is to increase the influence of national parliaments over Community legislation, enabling them to subject it to greater scrutiny and more rigorous approval procedures (for example, a proposal rejected by a national parliament might have to be sent back to the Council and made subject to unanimity). This, however, would undermine the principle of qualified majority voting and if carried to any length would effectively restore the national veto. It would, therefore, go against the grain of 30 years of Community thinking.

The Commission's preferred solution is cosmetic - to promote the role of the regions, 'explain the benefits of the Community' and improve the transparency of the EU's notoriously opaque institutions, in the name of 'bringing the EU closer to the people'. To this end, the Maastricht Treaty introduced the concept of 'subsidiarity', defined as the principle that European decisions should be taken at the lowest practicable level. In reality, however, subsidiarity is too vague to be enforceable at law. It is also, as presently construed, a sham. The integrationist Commission and Court of Justice are the arbiters of the level at which decisions are to be taken, and the doctrine of the acquis communautaire rules out any repatriation of powers from the centre to the nation states. Indeed, if subsidiarity were given genuine significance it would mean a reversion towards the Gaullist and Thatcherite vision of a Europe of Nations - a vision which the EU has consistently rejected.

The democratic deficit therefore raises in acute form the problem of the EU's inability to win the affections of the people. Without a common culture, shared historical memories or a shared sense of destiny, a legitimate pan-European democracy appears impossible of fulfilment. By a supreme irony, if the EU itself were to apply for Community membership, it would be deemed too undemocratic to pass its own tests for admission. Perhaps the most promising approach is 'variable geometry', under which individual countries could freely choose whether to retain or to pool their control over key fields of policy. This concept, which has allowed the UK to retain the pound while the other member states have adopted the single currency, would address the need for democratic legitimacy - more strongly felt in some countries than in others - by allowing similar flexibility in such areas as defence, foreign policy, border control and criminal justice.

For the origins of the democratic deficit, the reader may wish to consult The 'European idea' and Founding Fathers.


A founder member of the Council of Europe, NATO, the Nordic Council and EFTA, Denmark applied to join the EC with the UK in 1961 and was admitted, again with the UK, in 1973, having in the interim been effectively blocked by de Gaulle's veto on British accession (trade between the UK and Denmark was too great to risk disruption from the Community's tariff wall).

Denmark's courageous behaviour during World War II reflected its strong democratic traditions and its pride in independence. Its socially responsible left-of-centre attitudes fit well with the prevailing EU ethos, and the country ranks among the richest member states, largely because of its efficient agriculture (not to mention the Community's generous farm subsidies).

From the standpoint of the Commission and a number of the member states, however, Denmark is an awkward ally, since its attitude to federation has been as reluctant as the UK's. The Danish representative in the Council of Ministers is obliged to check back with the Danish parliament before agreeing to any significant integrationist steps. A five-sixths parliamentary majority is required for any constitutional change, failing which a referendum must be held. The referendums of 1972 (on accession) and 1986 (on the Single European Act) approved ratification, but were based on false assurances that European political union was not contemplated. By 1992, the Danes were disillusioned and rejected the Maastricht Treaty. A second referendum in 1993 was influenced by a united media front stressing the risks of isolation; in addition, the government had won certain concessions, including an opt-out from the final stage of EMU and the right not to participate in European defence measures. As a result, the Yes side prevailed, with some 57% of the votes. Nevertheless, grass roots resistance to the EU continued, on the grounds that the Danish constitution bars the transfer of sovereignty except in limited areas, and the Treaty of Amsterdam was only narrowly ratified in 1998.

While Danish and British Eurosceptics are at one over the fundamental issue of the EU's 'democratic deficit', they tend to approach other aspects from different standpoints. The Danes criticise the Community for being weak on social objectives, such as the environment, whereas the British see it as the source of over-regulation. Both countries are concerned over the scale of immigration, which has led in Denmark to an unexpected burst of xenophobia. Thus although the odds favour Denmark remaining in the EU, withdrawal is not a contingency that can be permanently ruled out. In 2000, the country faced another test of attitudes with a new referendum on the single currency. As before, business, the media and government would be running a well-financed 'Yes' campaign and the opposition would come mainly from the left.


A temporary exception to, or exemption from, a Regulation, Directive or Treaty provision, for example as part of a transitional arrangement when a new state joins the EU. A member state which fails to meet the convergence criteria for EMU is given an automatic derogation from the single currency.


A policy of reducing tension between countries. The term was especially used of East-West European relations in the Cold War between the late 1960s and the collapse of Soviet communism around 1990. Among détente's leading exponents was Chancellor Willy Brandt of Germany, with his Ostpolitik, or policy of conciliation with the Soviet bloc, during the early 1970s. Détente was essentially a one-way strategy: in the West it meant making concessions, such as recognising borders or regimes imposed by force; whereas behind the Iron Curtain it was principally a propaganda manoeuvre to undermine Europe's NATO-based security.


See Aid and development.


See Directorate-General.

D'Hondt system

Invented by a Belgian in the 19th century, the d'Hondt formula is widely used in Europe, including by the European Parliament, to distribute posts between different groups. Suppose, for example, that three parties hold respectively 120, 90 and 36 seats in an elected assembly and that they have the right to appoint six cabinet ministers between them. Under the d'Hondt system the number of seats held by each party would be divided first by two, then by three, then by four, and so on, and the resulting figures would be ranked in descending numerical order, with the cabinet positions going to the top six numbers. Thus:







Number of members




Divided by 2




Divided by 3




Divided by 4




In the above example Party C would not qualify to nominate a cabinet minister if only five positions were available; if eight positions were available, Parties A and B would each have the right to one extra nomination. The system, which is particularly adapted to coalition rule, was first used in the UK in the troubled Northern Ireland assembly before its dissolution in 2000.

Differentiated integration

See Variable geometry.

Direct effect

The principle that rights under Community law may apply directly to EU citizens, regardless of whether they have been enacted into national law.


Directives have come to symbolise the new constitutional order of Europe even more than their legal brethren, Regulations and Decisions. At the summit of this order stands Community law, enshrined in the Treaty of Rome, as amended by subsequent Treaties. Directives are subordinate instruments, in that they must reflect Treaty provisions, but they are endowed with the same supremacy over national law.

Unlike Regulations and Decisions, which once issued pass directly into effect throughout the EU, Directives have first to be enacted nationally before obtaining legal force (although the Francovich case showed that failure to implement a Directive promptly can lead to remedy by the European Court of Justice). Thus member states have flexibility over the form of the legislation, a privilege which some countries use to minimise the impact of Directives, whereas others, most notoriously the UK, seize the opportunity to maximise their impact by 'goldplating' them with unnecessary refinements.

While the Common Agricultural Policy is mainly implemented by Regulations, the single market operates through 'horizontal' Directives, which set out industry-wide standards, and 'vertical' Directives, which specify the minutiae of business processes. A 'framework' Directive covers a broad field of policy in which legislation is to be brought in. These Directives are drafted by the Commission, ratified (often unread or after only superficial examination) by the Council of Ministers, occasionally amended by the European Parliament and finally passed into domestic law with the barest of scrutiny. The Parliament of Westminster makes more attempt than most national assemblies to vet them, but it is overwhelmed by the volume of documents, including the Statutory Instruments which the British civil service deploys to transpose Directives into law.

It is difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the size of the problem, since the official statistics are deficient, partly through under-recording and partly through double counting. A French estimate made in 1993 put the number of European pieces of legislation at over 1,500 per year, 10% more than the volume of French legislation. A later British estimate suggested that in 1995 the Commission issued 2,801 Regulations, 3,025 Decisions and 35 Directives, as well as 600 draft proposals. In 1996 1,832 British Statutory Instruments were registered, of which (if French experience is a guide) some 75% will have been related to Directives and other forms of EU legislation. Many of these were lengthy, complex and brought up either at short notice or when the Houses of Parliament were in recess. A Danish MEP stated in 1997 that by 1996 over 23,000 EU legal acts were officially in force (nearly 9,000 relating to agriculture), although this figure evidently included some superseded Directives. An Economist calculation put the acquis communautaire at some 80,000 pages in 1998, more than twice the length of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

This system, whereby 370 million Europeans receive (or so it is estimated) over half their law from distant middle-ranking bureaucrats, has started to concern more than just sceptics. There is, however, no solution in sight, and the increasing use of Regulations foreseen by the Commission will deprive national governments of even the vestiges of control. (See also Legal instruments.)

Directorate-General (DG)

There are 24 Directorates-General within the European Commission, each responsible for one or more specific areas of policy-making. In addition, the Commission provides legal, translation, statistical and other support services. The responsibilities of commissioners do not correspond exactly with the DGs.


Discrimination among EU citizens on grounds of nationality or sex is generally barred under Community law, although non-EU migrant workers enjoy considerably less protection. The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam greatly enlarged the range of prohibited activities, to include discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. It laid particular emphasis on the elimination of sexual discrimination, although it somewhat undermined the principle of equal treatment by authorising member states to pursue positive discrimination to ease the career path for the 'under-represented sex' (Eurospeak for women). In theory, the rights and prohibitions contained in the EU's treaties apply only to activities falling within the competence of the Community. In reality, the Community's competence is so broad and the principles are so entrenched in the Treaties that it is hard to picture an area that would not be encompassed by the anti-discrimination provisions.

Discrimination on nationality grounds

An exception to the general prohibition is that public service employment may be reserved for nationals: this includes civil servants, the armed forces and the police.

Sexual discrimination

Since the mid-1970s the Commission has been producing Directives aimed at giving women equal rights in the workplace - of occupation, conditions, promotion and social security. More recently the focus has been on extending the interpretation of equal pay for equal work, first to include equality of pension entitlement and then to define equal work as work of 'equivalent value' - an echo of the ancient concept of the 'just wage'.

In addition, the Commission regularly proposes action programmes for voluntary implementation by the member states. These programmes range from practical proposals to improve training and career guidance, to politically fashionable objectives such as the promotion of 'gender awareness' and the removal of stereotypes from educational books. Between these extremes lie suggestions of a social market nature, such as guaranteed maternity leave and the protection of pregnant women from loss of promotion. Ironically, the Commission itself, which claims exaggerated credit for the rising status of women within the EU, appointed no female commissioners until 1989.

Other forms of discrimination

The Treaty of Amsterdam is too recent to permit of experience in the other areas of discrimination that it identifies, some of which are ill-defined and so open to contentious interpretation. An interesting parallel development, also created by the Treaty of Amsterdam, was the granting of authority to the Community to intervene to protect 'fundamental human rights' within the EU. It was on this principle that Austria was boycotted diplomatically by the other member states when its allegedly xenophobic Freedom Party entered government, although the Commission itself refrained from action on the grounds that no specific violations had occurred. These events led some libertarians to fear that Community law was in danger of becoming politicised in the name of prohibiting discrimination.

Dooge Committee

The Dooge Committee, set up ad hoc in 1984, made far-reaching recommendations on institutional reform, many of which subsequently found their way into the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht.

'Double hatting'

A military force assigned both to NATO and to the EU's embryonic army (the Eurocorps or the WEU) is said to be 'double-hatted'.

Double majority

Since qualified majority voting gives excessive weight to the EU's smaller member states, the idea has been floated that Council proposals of significance should only be passed if they are supported both by a majority of states representing over half the EU population and also by states representing over half the weighted votes. Other similar 'double majority' ideas have been canvassed. (See also Qualified majority voting.)

Draft Treaty establishing the European Union (DTEU)

The DTEU was the brainchild of the veteran Italian federalist Altiero Spinelli. It embodied his ambition to build on the legitimacy of the first directly elected European Parliament to revive the momentum for European integration after the legacy of stalemate left by Charles de Gaulle. Spinelli's proposals took the form of a draft treaty to replace - not amend - the existing Community Treaties. In many respects his text anticipated subsequent developments. For example, his concept of a European Union in which powers would progressively be shifted from the intergovernmental sphere ('co-operation') to the Community sphere ('common action') surfaced later in the Maastricht Treaty's 'pillar' structure and the one-way-traffic doctrine of the 'acquis communautaire'. The DTEU was adopted by the European Parliament in 1984, but its unambiguous federalism was controversial in some quarters, as was its proposal to terminate the unanimity requirement for treaty changes and substitute population-based voting. In the event the only national parliaments to ratify it were those of Belgium and Italy. Nevertheless, it played a large part in preparing the ground for the Single European Act of 1986 and exerted an influence on Europeanist thinking for several years to come.

Dual mandate

The privilege, now obsolescent except in France, of being simultaneously a member of a national parliament and the European Parliament.

Dublin Convention

The Dublin Convention of 1990 was designed to prevent would-be immigrants from making serial applications for asylum to one EU member state after another, in order to extend their stay. In practice, it had the effect of encouraging lax external border control, since the Convention (taken in association with the Schengen Agreement) transferred the responsibility for processing asylum applications from the country of first arrival to the country of 'first handling'. This led to an increase in refugees, some of them schooled to gain easy access to the EU by promising to transit from the frontier states to another EU country, relying on the Community's internal freedom of movement. (See also Asylum and Schengen Agreement.)

Duisenberg, Wim (1935-)

In 1997, after 15 years as president of the Dutch Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg, an economist of impeccably anti-inflationary credentials, was appointed president of the European Monetary Institute, which was replaced by the European Central Bank (ECB) in 1998. Initially considered a certainty to be the first head of the ECB, he was shocked when France unsuccessfully counter-proposed Jean-Claude Trichet as a candidate - a proposal which underlined the French wish to politicise the ECB and led eventually to an uneasy compromise whereby Duisenberg agreed informally not to serve out his full term. In 1999 he was the focus of some undeserved criticism as the euro lost over 15% of its value against the dollar in its first year of existence.

Dumas affair

A former French foreign minister, Roland Dumas was appointed in 1996 as head of France's constitutional council by his dying friend President François Mitterrand, a position he reluctantly vacated in 2000 when indicted on corruption charges. The allegations related to Elf, the French state oil company that figured in several high-level political 'slush fund' scandals in France and Germany during the 1990s, tarnishing the reputations of, among others, Mitterrand and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In mitigation, it was claimed by some that illicit secret funding had the higher purpose of shoring up political parties dedicated to European unification.

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