STOP-TTIP REJECTED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Yesterday evening the citizens’ committee of STOP-TTIP announced that the European Commission has decided not to register their ECI. This means that already almost half of the ECIs that applied for registration have been rejected by the Commission (20 out of 44). It is an alarming signal for the ECI instrument as such that only one new ECI has been registered in 2014 while already five new proposed ECIs were declared as as inadmissible this year.
The aim of the STOP-TTIP ECI is to prevent TTIP and CETA from being further negotiated, as they include several critical issues such as investor-state dispute settlement and rules on regulatory cooperation that pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law. The initiators of the ECI want to prevent employment, social, environmental, privacy and consumer standards from being lowered and public services (such as water) and cultural assets from being deregulated in non-transparent negotiations. The ECI supports an alternative trade and investment policy in the EU.
STOP-TTIP is being coordinated by an alliance of several organisations including Attac, the Munich Environment Institute, the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Unit (NABU) and More Democracy Germany (Mehr Demokratie e.V.). For the very first time a large online platform – Campact – is a co-initiating NGO of a European Citizens’ Initiative. In a ‘pre-campaign’ some of the alliance partners have already organized a petition on the same issue with more than 700,000 signatories.
The European Commission explains in its statement that:
“The negotiation of an international agreement precedes and prepares its signature and conclusion. The Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations is therefore a preparatory act with respect to the Council decisions authorising the signature and conclusion of an international agreement, which are adopted on the basis of Commission proposals. As such, it deploys legal effects only between the institutions concerned without modifying EU law. Such modification occurs only once the result of the negotiations, i. e. the international agreement, is signed and concluded.
Therefore, your proposed citizens’ initiative falls outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties, within the meaning of Article 4(2)(b) of the Regulation, read in conjunction with Article 2, point 1, insofar as it invites the Commission to submit a recommendation to the Council on the repeal of the Council decision authorising the opening of the TTIP negotiations or not to submit proposals for Council decisions on the signature and / or conclusion of TTIP or to submit proposals for “decisions” not to authorise the signature of or not to conclude TTIP.”
“Now the battle really begins,” said Michael Efler, contact person of the ECI, which currently represents almost 230 organizations from 21 EU countries. “The rejection of the ECI only confirms the Commission’s strategy to exclude citizens and parliaments from the TTIP and CETA negotiations. Instead of paying attention to citizens, it is just lobbyists that are being listened to.”
“The Commission’s view that only acts with an effect on third parties are permissible for an ECI is obviously a legal error. The negotiating mandate of the Commission is a formal decision of the Council and therefore a legal act. If the Commission’s legal opinion had any substance, then in plain English this would mean that Europe’s population is excluded from participation in the development of any kind of international agreements – information that is as frightening as it is scandalous,” according to Efler.