It is clear from statements made on this thread and the one from which it was split that there is considerable misunderstanding about how the EU operates. Much of that misunderstanding mirrors the propaganda promulgated by the media from which it was presumably derived. With one day left before voting I thought a short tutorial on the EU might be useful. This is not an attempt to present a case for IN or OUT but simply to dispel some of the misinformation. Clear thinking leads to sensible voting.
The Commission is not the government of the EU. The Commission is the civil service of the EU. Like the UK civil service its members are appointed not elected.
The Commission does not impose legislation. The Commission drafts proposed legislation exactly like the UK civil service drafts proposed legislation. That proposed legislation is then debated, possibly amended or rejected and finally voted on by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers before it becomes EU law in exactly the same way that UK legislation is debated, amended and voted on in the House of Commons. If a piece of EU legislation exists it has been passed by the democratically elected representatives of EU citizens in exactly the same way that UK legislation only exists if it has been passed by the democratically elected representatives of UK citizens. Of course, as in any democratic process, the majority may pass legislation that you disagree with but that is a function of democracy.
MEPs are democratically elected in constituencies across the EU exactly like UK MPs are democratically elected in constituencies across the UK. Because a system of proportional representation is used you could argue that the election of MEPs is more democratic than UK MPs. Contrast for example the number of votes needed in the UK to elect one UKIP MP compared to the number needed to elect one Conservative MP. Such large discrepancies do not exist in the EU Parliamentary elections.
There are two levels of EU legislation. Primary legislation consists of treaties and secondary legislation consists of directives and regulations. The secondary legislation implements the details of the principles set out in the treaties. Treaties require unanimity across all EU member states before they are agreed. Secondary legislation is decided by qualified majority voting. For example, if the UK decides to leave the EU the terms of the UK's relationship with the EU after leaving will be subject to a treaty change and that will require a unanimous vote across every member state. Whatever the UK negotiates with the Commission it can be blocked by a single member state.
There is one area where the Commission differs from the UK civil service. In the UK legislation is initiated by ministers and then drafted by civil servants while in the EU the legislation is initiated by the Commission. This is seen as a democratic deficit but it is not as clear cut as it seems. When it comes to treaties, ministers from member states will have strong influence over how the EU develops. For example the original drive for a European Community came from Robert Schuman who held the roles of foreign minister, finance minister and prime minister in France. The architects of the Maastricht Treaty, which largely created the EU as we know it today, were Helmut Kohl, who was Chancellor of Germany, and François Mitterand, who was President of France. The Commission does not simply dream up new treaties on a whim and if it did they would never get through. It constructs treaties on the basis of discussions with democratically elected representatives of member states. Once a treaty is in force it is reasonable that the Commission drafts the secondary legislation to implement it since only the Commission has an overview of all member states that enable it to see what legislation is needed to implement the treaty principles. The secondary legislation harmonises legislation across member states where differences in local legislation inhibits a treaty aim being achieved. It is normally a compromise between existing national legislation.
The media have pushed quite hard that the UK will be forced to join a United States of Europe federal government system if we remain. They have also pushed that the UK will be forced to agree to a central tax policy if we remain. These claims are untrue and the media know they are untrue. Both these would require a treaty change and the UK could veto any such treaty. The need for closer political union and coordinated tax policy is mostly an issue for the Eurozone so it is likely that rather than block such a treaty the UK would be given an opt out in exactly the same way we were given an opt out from the Euro to avoid us blocking that treaty. If the UK did ever accept these changes it would be because your democratically elected government accepted them.
There is no evidence of corruption within the Commission itself, although some probably exists as it does in any large institution. The auditors' report show that the level of accounting errors on the Commissions internal expenditure are very low and well within what you would expect for that level of expenditure. It is certainly true that the levels of remuneration and expenses are high, especially at the top level, but that is because your democratically elected representatives have agreed to those levels of remuneration. Considering the level of responsibility and the level of remuneration and expenses in large private companies they are probably not ridiculous. It is also true that there is waste. The classic example is moving the EU parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg and back. The Commission don't require that. The Commission would love it to remain in Brussels all the time. It is done purely to satisfy the sensibilities of France.
There is certainly evidence of corruption within MEPs, mostly through fiddling expenses, in exactly the same way that UK MPs were caught fiddling expenses and continue to do so. Do you blame the civil service when UK MPs are caught fiddling their expenses? Why blame the Commission when MEPs are caught fiddling theirs?
The bulk of accounting errors found by the auditors, and the only ones that were significant, were in the funds paid out on various framework programmes in member states. Those payments are administered by the government in each member state. If some of those errors are due to corruption then that corruption is within the democratically elected government of each member state or within the administration that democratically elected government controls. It is not within the Commission.
PS As an aside, or by-the-by if you prefer, the issue of tax harmonisation goes far beyond the EU. Piketty has made a quite convincing case that if the world as a whole does not agree to total transparency on ownership of assets and implements a uniform tax policy on capital or the returns on capital, then the aggregation of capital at the very top of society will continue inexorably until 100 % of the worlds capital is owned by a few thousand oligarchs. Of course the people who currently own 50 % of the world's wealth wield incredible power so the likelihood of that happening is very small