Campaign for the European Citizens' Initiative - commentaires Reply to Emmanuel's text above 2006-07-14T16:53:13Z 2006-07-14T16:53:13Z <p>The concept of the European Citizens' Initiative is quite easy to understand. One million European citizens can call on the European Commission to propose a change to European law.</p> <p>This campaign calls for the introduction of the right of Citizens' Initiative, which has to be distinguished from the right of petition ! The already existing right of petition is addressed to the European Parliament where the request mostly ends up on a big pile and is hardly ever considered seriously. Or could you name me one petition, which has been successful ? A petition is an individual right, in other words it can be started by just one person and it is mostly used as an instrument of complaint. On the contrary the right of initiative is a much more meaningful and powerful instrument because you have to qualify for it. Since one million signatures represent a mass of Europeans and since the signatures have to come from several European member states, the weight of a citizens' initiative is much higher than a petition. Moreover, the Citizens' Initiative would be dealt by the Commission (and not by the Parliament). By the way this is first direct link between the citizens and the Commission. Thus the Commission CAN directly initiate the legislative process if it considers the proposal as important. One must stress that the Commission can start the legislative process, they are not obliged to do so. That's why the right of Citizens' Initiative does not affect the institutional balance and consequently does not require a treaty change. However the European Commission would be forced to give a public response to an initiative signed by at least one million European citizens and be much less inclined to ignore the European citizens' request. This will constitute an important step towards a more vivid, genuine European public sphere, where citizens have a say.</p> <p>Well-known lawyers (including those from the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, which is a think-tank consulting the German Government) have checked the legal possibilities of introducing the right of initiative. And the conclusion is clear : Legally the ECI could be implemented at once. It is just a question of political willingness to act, and this political will is missing at this moment within the European institutions and among the European heads of state. However the European Council recently agreed on its June-summit to make “full use of the possibilities offered by existing treaties”. This includes more transparency in the Council, which the Austrian Presidency just put into force. In analogy to this, also the right for European Citizens' Initiatives could be put into force under the German Presidency next year. By the way also the European Parliament expressed in its resolution on the phase of reflection that there are at least three elements of democratic reform mentioned in the constitutional text, which are already implementable now : Transparency in the Council, the so called “watchdogs” for national parliaments on EU-legislation (also already put into force under the Austrian Presidency) and the European Citizens' Initiative. So this transnational campaign for the implementation for the European Citizens' Initiative is exactly what Europe needs right now and is absolutely zeitgeisty.</p> Campaign for the European Citizens' Initiative 2006-07-12T11:28:48Z 2006-07-12T11:28:48Z <p>I just do not understand this.</p> <p>First, from a strategic point of view, making a petition to have the right of petition seems a bit bizarre. Why not a petition for a petition for a petition ?</p> <p>Second, we already have the right of petition. And we do not need 1 million citizens to exercise it.</p> <p>Third, if this right of citizen's initiative aims at setting the EU legislative agenda, thus going further than the current right of petition, I would like to have more details, which I didn't find in this article or on the website.</p> <p>This « right of initiative » was forseen in the constitutional treaty, and as I understand it, the aim of this campaign is to have it enter into force although the constitution was rejected, by introducing it through a European Regulation.</p> <p>Unfortunately, if this was proposed as a constitutional reform, it is precisely because this « right » is an outright violation of the current treaties, because it impedes on the Commission's exclusive right of initiative by requiring it to respond positively to the petition (otherwise the so-called « right » would be meaningless, and not more important than the current right of petition).</p> <p>Furthermore, the current treaties do not have any appropriate legal basis for such an EU regulation. The only one I've heard of is article 308 of the EC treaty. But even this very far-reaching article, which allows the EU institutions to pass a Directive or a Regulation even if the necessary powers are not provided for by the treaty, cannot be applied here, because it may only be used for the achievement of the single market, an issue which isn't at stake in the present case.</p> <p>In a word, this campaign is politically questionnable and legally ill-founded. So I really do not understand it.</p>