ECI “Stop TTIP” Will Start on Self-Organized Grounds

September 19, 2014 News

One week after the European Commission rejected the STOP-TTIP ECI proposal, citizens involved in the organisation of the initiative decided to act.

STOP-TTIP has announced in today’s press release that they will challenge the European Commission in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for denying the right to speak out against TTIP and CETA in a European Citizens’ Initiative. However such a legal procedure usually takes several years. This has been shown by at least four ongoing similar cases brought up to Court by other ECIs that were declared inadmissible. In fact already almost half of the ECIs that applied for registration have been rejected by the Commission (20 out of 44). The ECI Campaign has raised attention on the highly restrictive interpretation of the ECI rules by the EU Commission. See here and here.

Michael Efler, member of the ECI citizens’ committee, said: “International trade agreements should not be negotiated behind closed doors without public intervention. This is the principle we will be fighting for at the European Court of Justice. It is unacceptable that, after secret negotiations over which we have no influence, the European Parliament and the public are presented with a fait accompli.”

In contrast to earlier denied cases of admissibility the European Commission does not state that the ECI “Stop TTIP” would “be manifestly outside the powers of the Commission to propose a legal act of the Union”. If this ECI is not outside the Commission’s powers, why has it been rejected then?” asks Carsten Berg, General Coordinator of The ECI Campaign.

What is more, the organisers will carry out a self-organized European Citizens’ Initiative, which will be an “autonomous ECI” that can not be sanctioned by the Commission, but is a free expression of people’s opposition to TTIP and CETA. Through this informal ECI the organisers will most likely address not only the European Commission, but also the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Karl Baer, member of the ECI steering committee, said: “We will not be ending our protest just because the European Commission wants to gain time with an unfounded and politically motivated rejection. Democracy arises through social intervention and participation in the political process; it is not something to be granted or denied by Brussels. That is why we will be launching a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative. The European Commission is trying to ignore us; it will not succeed.”

The ECI will be carried out very similarly to a conventional ECI. The organisers plan to provide signature lists for paper collection and an online signature gathering tool. Most probably the initiative will start in early October.

The EU Commission’s justification for rejection

Democracy v European integration? Rejection of the ECI against TTIP – commentary by Steffen Stierle from Attac Germany