ECI “Water is a Human Right” hits country quorum – but still not ready for submission
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Water is a human right” has reached an important milestone and is very likely to become the first ever successful ECI in history. Already by February 9, 2013 more than a million European citizens, the minimum number of signatories for a successful ECI, had supported the ECI “Water is a Human Right” (see our press release of Feb 10th). According to the organizers this ECI has now also hit the country quorum of at least seven Member States.
Sufficient signatures have been collected in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia. See today’s press release by the organizers and an overview of the distribution of signatures as of May 6 on the bottom-line of this up-date.
However, the collection process must continue across Europe in order to counter-balance potentially invalid signatures. Experience with citizens’ initiative rights at the national and sub-national levels have shown that up to 20% of signatures could be invalidated by national authorities due to incomplete or inaccurate information. Before the ECI signatures and statements of support are submitted to the Commission, they have to be certified by the national authorities in each of the Member States where signatures have been collected (a very burdensome procedure for ECI organizers). These authorities are given three months to validate the statements of support. The ECI Campaign Team will interview the German authorities how exactly signatures will be (in-)validated and publish the results on this website. Germany is the country in which most of the ECI signatures – alone in Germany more than 1.2 million – have been collected so far.
Given the institutional problems with the implementation of the new ECI instrument the European Commission had extended the deadline for the first ECIs by half a year. The “Water is a Human Right” ECI can thus still collect signatures until 31 October 2013.
Once the ECI is submitted to the Commission, the EU’s executive body will have another three months to examine the initiative and to decide how to act on it. Since the ECI is not a binding instrument, the EU institutions are only morally – but not legally – obliged to act on the issue. The ECI organisers will finally have the possibility to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament. This is expected to take place by the end of the year or the beginning of 2014.
– Website “Water is a Human Right” at www.right2water.eu
– Website of European Commission featuring all ongoing ECIs
– A Special Feature: “Right 2 Water Initiative Pioneering the million, targeting transnationality, changing policy” by Carsten Berg ECI Campaign Coordinator
– For more information contact: Carsten Berg firstname.lastname@example.org