Commission Registration Decisions are Weakening the ECI

2015-03-06 News


Since the launch of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on 1 April 2012, nearly half of all ECIs (20 out of 47 as of 1 March 2015) submitted to the European Commission for registration have been declared legally inadmissible. This extraordinarily high refusal rate raises serious questions about both the Commission’s application of the ECI Regulation and the appropriateness of a pre-registration legal admissibility check.

The ECI Campaign is deeply concerned that these decisions are significantly weakening the ECI instrument and inhibiting its future use, thus restricting the rights of EU citizens and undermining EU democracy overall. All registered ECIs, regardless of the number of signatures collected, have created the important democratic benefits of cross-border policy debates and giving EU citizens the chance to influence the EU policy agenda.

By preventing the registration of so many ECIs, sometimes on questionable legal grounds, the Commission has not only prevented debate on important topics like nuclear power and the TTIP trade agreement, but also dissuaded others from even considering using the ECI. We believe it is one of the key factors contributing to the dramatic recent decline in the number of new ECIs.

As a first step, we call on the European Ombudsman, as well as the AFCO and PETI committees in the European Parliament, to investigate the Commission’s interpretation of the ECI Regulation on issues of legal admissibility. We believe many of these decisions have been excessively strict and violated the intention of the Regulation. We also support ECI campaigns challenging Commission decisions in the European Court of Justice, although regret the slowness of this procedure. During the upcoming review of the ECI Regulation, we ask for a reappraisal of the legal admissibility check.

Below you find further relevant links to the subject.

Critiques of the Commission’s use of the legal admissibility check:

Reform ECI Registration and Expand Public Debate: Reconsidering Legal Admissibility – James Organ

The ECI Campaign Opinion on Treaty Amendment

“The European Citizens’ Initiative Registration: Falling at the Firsrt Hurdle?” – Onno Brouwer / Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer / PPT presentation

Challenges to Commission ECI registration decisions in the European Court of Justice:

European Court of Justice to rule on admissibility of an ECI for the first time

ECI-related court cases:

One Million Signatures for a Europe of Solidarity
Anagnostakis v Commission – Case T-450/12
(Date of application: 11/10/2012)
More info: Hearing scheduled for 5 May 2015.

Minority SafePack – one million signatures for diversity in Europe
Minority SafePack and Others v Commission – Case T-646/13
(Date of application: 25/11/2013)

Cohesion Policy for the Equality of Regions and Stability of the Regional Cultures
Izsák and Dabis v Commission – Case T-529/13
(Date of application: 10/01/2014)

Right to Lifelong Care: Leading a life of dignity and independence is a fundamental right!
Costantini and Others v Commission – Case T-44/14
(Date of application: 15/01/2014)

One of Us
One of Us and Others v Parliament and Others – Case T-561/14
(Date of application: 25/07/2014)
More info: Application to the General Court of the European Union / European Commission’s reply / One of Us press release

Ethics for Animals and Kids
HB and Others v Commission – Case T-361/14
(Date of application: 31/10/2014)

Efler and Others v Commission – Case T-754/14
(Date of application: 16/01/2015)
More info: Statement of claim (in German)

Legal Views on the Commission’s refusal to register the ECI Stop TTIP:

Stop TTIP ECI Campaign legal opinion from Professor Bernhard Kempen

Commission blocks TTIP ECI and public debate – Analysis by legal scholar James Organ

Pourquoi le rejet de l’Initiative citoyenne «STOP TTIP» est contestable by Professor Jean-Paul Jacque

Mehr Partizipation wagen! by Hannes Rathke