As an example, there are frequent complaints about how the EU is introducing weird legislation such as the "banana law" or the infamous "cookie law", or about how its "undemocratic", or about how it is overly oriented towards the left, etc.

But then why don't all the critics of the EU campaign to be elected in the EU parliament? If successful, they could singlehandedly abolish every single law they protest about and theoretically change the course of the EU altogether. Participation rates in EU elections are historically low, so it should be even easier than campaigning for the national parliament. Or perhaps its already happening and there are parties actively fighting the "EU Establishment" from within the EU?

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    This assumes that there is actual substance to the complaints, e.g. that the EU did introduce a banana law.
    – MSalters
    Apr 11, 2018 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


They do that.

There are not one, not two but three political groups in the European Parliament who consist of members of eurosceptic national parties:

In the current (8th) European Parliament they together account for 154 of 751 seats (20.5%). There are also a few declared eurosceptics among the 20 factionless members of the EP.

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    Except they are notable for not showing up and generally not doing much (Marine Le Pen being a good example). Merely presenting candidates to European elections and doing the bare minimum to get your salary is not “actively fighting” anything.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 11, 2018 at 6:11
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    @Relaxed How is "doing the bare minimum to get your salary" any different than pro-EU EP members do?
    – Sjoerd
    Apr 11, 2018 at 21:48
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    @Sjoerd Statistically, they are attending fewer sessions, making fewer proposals, etc. There are certainly MEP who are more active, that's the difference. But I am not saying that's the right thing to do. The parliament does not have much power, MEPs talk a lot without achieving much. The point remains: Remaining passive is not going to change the EU from within (the OP's question). And that's not a problem for people who like the way the EU is now...
    – Relaxed
    Apr 12, 2018 at 5:53
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    @Relaxed - a good example is Mr Farage, who attended one out of fourty two meetings on fisheries policy, yet claims to work in british fishermen's interest. (source, greenpeace.org.uk/press-releases/…)
    – Miller86
    Apr 16, 2018 at 10:37

There a couple of good reasons why they don't do it. First, the Parliament can to an extent block new legislation but it cannot single-handedly do much, certainly not abolish existing laws (directives/regulations). So fighting the EU from the inside is a non-starter, even with a majority which anti-EU politicians do not have at the moment.

Since much of the decision making goes through the council (and ultimately the national governments), the most important thing is to take power at the national level. But even there, eurosceptics have no effective alternative to offer.

For most of the complaints are just made-for-TV indignation, with little concern for understanding the way the EU works and that is of no use in formulating policy. Many eurosceptic soundbites or columns are just plain inaccurate or based on misrepresentations.

Among those that are not completely fabricated, many stem from the way the single market operates, not from arbitrary overreach from the "EU establishment". The basic idea is that quality standards are defined at the EU level so that EU countries can trust each other and let products circulate freely. That very much includes rules on what can be called what or what makes a fruit fit for consumption.

So seemingly “weird“ legislation is not the result of some federalist conspiracy or EU power grab, it's integral to the core economic purpose of the EU. And it's technically difficult to see how you could keep the economic benefits of the EU (a goal many eurosceptic actually share or claim to share) while getting rid of the rules on cucumbers and bananas. That's why eurosceptics find it very difficult to move from denunciation to the formulation of any kind of policy or legal language that could be put in law (whether at the national or EU levels).

What the unfolding Brexit drama shows is that anti-EU hardliners do not know how to solve these conundrums and prefer to grand-stand from the sidelines. After winning the referendum, prominent leavers carefully avoided the responsibility to make Brexit happen. In other words, they have no idea what the course of the EU should be or exactly how their country could be better off out of it.

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    This answer mentions some interesting points about elected MPs being unable to change the organization of the EU as a whole due to structural restrictions, but most of it is really just criticizing the eurosceptics themselves or euroscepticism as a concept. This answer would be much better if it would stick to the structural problems.
    – Philipp
    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:38
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    "First, the Parliament can to an extent block new legislation but it cannot single-handedly do much, certainly not abolish existing laws (directives/regulations). So fighting the EU from the inside is a non-starter, even with a majority " Indeed- one of the common complaints...
    – user19831
    Apr 11, 2018 at 11:41
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    @Philipp No it wouldn't, for that is an important part of the explanation. And for what it's worth, I actually think there are many valid reasons to be skeptical of the EU and its future. But the inability to go beyond vague slogans or impossible promises and articulate concrete policy propositions is a major structural reason why anti-EU politicians are unable to change the EU.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 11, 2018 at 16:53

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