The European Commission has shown its utter distain for genuine democracy in its decision to ignore the pro-life “One of Us” initiative signed by over 1.7 million citizens from 20 member states submitted in accordance with the requirements of the European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI). The ECI mechanism approved under the Lisbon Treaty is the EU response to accusations that the entire EU project is undemocratic and out of touch with its citizens. An ECI is in fact an invitation to the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate and must be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 28 member states.
The “One of Us” initiative exceeded the requirement of 1 million signatories obtaining 1.7 million signatures from 20 member states, the largest ECI in the history of the European Union.
Although the European Commission is under no obligation to follow requests made through an ECI, it makes a mockery of the entire process and highlights the undemocratic nature of the EU institutions by rejecting a democratically backed request that is in line with European law and imposing its own agenda, its own political will.
The actual Commission decision can be found on this link and a comment issued by the European Centre for law and Justice is reprinted below.
THE COMMISSION VETOS THE CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE "ONE OF US"
A decision contrary to ethical and democratic requirements
On 28th May, the last day in office, the former “Barroso Commission” vetoed the Citizens’ Initiative “UN DE NOUS / ONE OF US”, the largest petition in the history of European Institutions. This initiative, formally supported by two million people in Europe, is the largest petition in European history. It demands that Brussels no longer finances any practice that destroys human life before birth.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is a participative democracy mechanism created by the Treaty of Lisbon through which a million citizens can take the initiative of introducing a legislative proposal in the European institutions.
The ONE OF US Committee expresses its deep disappointment towards a deaf Commission which today makes a decision contrary to ethical and democratic requirements. While each initiative draft is controlled upstream by the Commission before being open to signature, the Barroso Commission claims to possess the right of veto downstream, against initiatives having yet successfully obtained the required popular support. Such veto power is illegitimate and anti-democratic since politically, it is the European Legislature that may give a verdict on the content of the Initiative, and not the Commission, otherwise, the ECI mechanism would be meaningless.
An Unjustified VETO which does not even take the purpose of the request into account: The Commission’s response is hypocritical and disdainful as it pretends to not understand the purpose of the demand and comprises of thirty pages of self satisfaction of its own policy. The Commission wishes to continue financing non ethical and outdated biotechnological practices, as well as abortion in developing countries including countries where this is prohibited by criminal law.
An Unjustifiable VETO which flouts the democratic procedure: The Commission, rather than noticing the Initiative’s success and transmitting it to the European Parliament and Council of Europe has abused its power of formal control to exercise a judgement on the political opportunity of “One of Us” and to block this procedure. The Commission is therefore trying to defend a privilege of initiative, being the only institution able to initiate legal procedures up upon the creation of the ECI mechanism. The Commission therefore made this mechanism a travesty while the deputies, on the contrary, wanted it to be a real instrument of participative democracy. The Commission thus testifies to the absence of a democratic culture.
For the “ONE OF US” Citizens’ Committee, the procedure is not over: on one hand, the Commission’s decision is likely to be appealed before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg – which acknowledges respect for human life from conception - and on the other hand, the new Parliament will audition the next Commission, allowing it to replace the respect of the Citizens’ Initiative in the heart of debates, and asks European Institutions to be more ethical and democratic.
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