This Wednesday, 10 May 14h00, the European Court of Justice will rule on the complaint by the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) “Stop TTIP” against the EU Commission. The organisers of the ECI against the EU-US treaty TTIP and the EU-Canada agreement CETA had filed a complaint in November 2014 after Commission rejected their registration. The then unofficial, “self-organised” ECI nevertheless collected 3,284,289 signatures and crossed the quorum in 23 Member States – nearly double the signatures of the most successful ECI until today.
The Commission’s legal arguments could immensely limit European Citizen Initiatives in general: 1. The “Stop TTIP” ECI tried to stop already the mandate for international treaties. Commission wants ECIs limited to concluded treaties. 2. The ECI asked not to conclude TTIP and CETA. Commission wants ECIs limited to calling for new EU laws.. The citizens’ initiative defended the admissibility of “Stop TTIP” with a legal study.
MEP Sven Giegold, rapporteur for Transparency, Accountability and Integrity in the EU institutions, commented:
Tomorrow, the EU-judges can breath new life into the European Citizen Initiative (ECI). Europe must offer its citizens more such opportunities for direct participation in EU decision making. More than 3 million EU citizens signed the European Citizens Initiative “Stop TTIP” to have their say on EU trade policy. A ruling in favour of the ECI could prove that citizens can truly influence EU decisions even where it hurts powerful interests.
Commission’s rejection of the “Stop TTIP” ECI, on the contrary, excluded citizens from important European decisions affecting their public services, their health and environment. The limits to European Citizens’ Initiatives which the Juncker Commission defends in court could profoundly disillusion citizens about European Democracy. Allowing a say by citizens only when it is too late or fits with Commission’s agenda would water down the potentially powerful antidote to populist narratives to homeopathic levels.
We Greens stand by our demand to Commission to clarify that the scope of ECIs should include mandates for international treaties such as TTIP and CETA as well as proposals for treaty changes. The revision of the European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, as promised by Vice-President Timmermans on 11 April 2017, should should include those clarifications.
Timmermans’ announcement of a revision of the ECI regulation: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-17-950_en.htm
Greens/EFA demands on how to fix the ECI: https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/european-commission-says-sorry-but-no-to-european-parliaments-call-for-stronger-rights-for-citizens/
Legal media briefing on the complaint by the ECI organisers: https://stop-ttip.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Media_backgrounder_ECJ_lawsuit.pdf
Sven Giegold’s statement on the Commission’s rejection in 11/2014: https://sven-giegold.de/2014/free-ttip-eci/