Politics

Deadline looming for 8 European Citizens’ Initiatives

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and aims at involving citizens in the European political process. Indeed, it gives them the possibility to ask the Commission to propose legislation on a specific topic that comes within the scope of EU competencies, provided that one million signatures are gathered within 12 months. A minimum number of signatories must be met in at least 7 Member States. 

17 ECIs are currently gathering support across Europe (the whole list is accessible here). 8 of them have until November 1st to obtain the required thresholds of signatures. Before it is too late, discover them in this article.

Fraternity 2020 – Mobility, Progress, Europe

The ECI aims at enhancing mobility in the EU to stimulate exchanges between citizens and “contribute to a united Europe based on solidarity”. Following last year’s European inter-institutional row over the funding of the EU budget, with the consequence that the popular Erasmus programme was short of money during a short period of time, the signatories of this ECI want the EU to spend more money (eventually 10% of the EU budget) on mobility and exchange programmes (not only Erasmus, but also other programmes such as the European Voluntary Service). According to the promoters of the ECI, these programmes should also develop more intercultural skills for the participants; therefore, various courses enabling the exchange students to better understand the culture of their host country should be offered. Thirdly, this ECI also calls for a better follow-up of the progress in European mobility. Enhancing mobility would not only enhance a sense of common belonging to a European Union, but would also have positive effects regarding the employability of European workers, in particular the younger ones who suffer from a high rate of unemployment.

This ECI has obtained 67,432 signatures until now, i.e., 6.74% of the required total. If you want to add your signature, you can click here.

Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!

The promoters of the ECI want the European institutions to recognise the access to water and sanitation as a “human right” (following the example of the UN) and promote their provision as “essential public services”.

Each citizen should therefore have an enforceable right to water and sanitation. Moreover, water supply and the management of water resources should remain in public hands and not be liberalised, nor subjected to internal market rules (the ECI probably refers to competition rules, not to sanitary rules). Signatories of this ECI also want the EU to promote universal access to clean water and sanitation.

This ECI has obtained nearly 1.9 million signatures and has therefore stopped in advance collecting them. If you want to learn more about it, click here.

One of us

This ECI is about ethics in research on the human being. More precisely, it considers that “the human embryo deserves respect to its dignity and integrity”, since the human embryo has been defined as the beginning of “the process of development of a human being” in the ECJ case law (case C-34/10, Brüstle v Greenpeace [2011], para 35). Therefore, this ECI calls for a European ban on, and the end of financing of, “activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in areas of research, development aid and public health”.

You can learn more about this initiative here and sign it here. It has already managed to cross the threshold of 1 million signatures, but it continues collecting some more to make sure that, after the validation process, there will still be enough of them.

Stop vivisection

This ECI aims at the abolition of animal experiments. It bases its claim both on “clear ethical objections” and on “solid scientific principles that invalidate the “animal model” for predicting human response”. In a 2006 Eurobarometer survey, 86% of respondents indicated they had ethical reservations about animal experiments. Therefore, this ECI, relying on Article 13 TFEU (which requires EU institutions and Member States to take into account the welfare of animals), wants the Commission to abolish Directive 2010/63/EU and propose new legislative rules which would prohibit animal experiments and require instead the use of “data directly relevant for the human species”.

You can visit the website here. This ECI has gathered more than 867,000 signatures. If you are interested in this topic and you agree with their goal, you have a couple of days to show your support by clicking here and signing the initiative.

High Quality European Education for All

The promoters of this ECI consider that “Europe’s future depends on Education, how to educate citizens, how they learn”. Therefore, “common educational goals reflecting EU basic values should be at the heart of a solution to today’s challenges”. Accordingly, signatories of this ECI want a debate to be launched with all stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, social partners, etc.) on “a European policy for a quality, pluralistic and EU 2020-oriented education model at primary and secondary level for all Europeans”. This could possibly even lead to a “European baccalaureate” (which already exists in the European Schools System).

The coordinators of this campaign have set up the Movement towards a European Education Trust (MEET). They believe that education is one of the instruments strengthen Europe and build a European identity.

More information can be obtained on the ECI’s website and you can show your support by clicking here and filling the signatory form. No numbers were available.

Pour une gestion responsable des déchets, contre les incinérateurs (no English version)

This ECI aims at suggesting a framework for a responsible management and processing of waste in all Member States. The proposed directive would have several underlying principles: the strengthening of the sorting of household waste; the prohibition of over-packaging; the mandatory use of recyclable packaging; the prohibition of waste incinerators; and the mandatory use of technologies with no impact on environment and health to manage and process waste.

The website is accessible here, and if you want to sign this ECI click here.

Note: No numbers were available, but looking at its website – it has a poor content and is only in French – it is unlikely that this ECI will be successful.

Suspension of the EU Climate & Energy Package

The promoters of this ECI want to obtain the suspension of “the 2009 EU Climate & Energy Package (excluding energy efficiency clauses) and further climate regulations until a climate agreement is signed by major CO2 emitters – China, USA and India”. They consider that without a global agreement, these rules put European countries at a disadvantage compared with “developing countries without climate legislation”, and that the EU climate policy is “wasting hundreds of billions of euros on ineffective unilateral action on the climate” when this money could be used for other purpose in times of economic crisis. Supporters of this ECI also want to make “fuel and energy cheaper, increase employment and reduce fuel poverty” to “increase social cohesion and reduce social exclusion”. Finally, energy security shall be enhanced by allowing each Member State to use its “own natural energy resources”.

You can discover more about this ECI on its website and sign the initiative here. No numbers were provided.

Note: The promoters of this ECI are not necessarily sceptical about climate change, but they do not want the EU to take the sole leadership in the global fight against climate change. That being said, they only care about the costs of the European climate and energy policy and not about its potential benefits.

Central public online collection platform for the European Citizen Initiative

This ECI aims at tackling the technical hurdles for launching an ECI. Indeed, setting up a website, an accredited system to collect signatures, etc. can be a daunting task. Therefore, the promoters of this initiative would like the Commission to provide an online platform “where you can register new initiatives and collect signatures”. Citizens would be able to look for ECIs according to, e.g., their interests. In addition, this online European platform would enable citizens to debate together and also with the ECIs’ promoters about the proposed initiatives. Finally, this platform would allow more transparency in the development process of the ECIs.

I couldn’t access their website (www.openpetition.eu), so I cannot provide a link for further information and signature.

Also ending soon: “30 km/h – making the streets liveable!” (collection of signatures closes on 13.11.2013)

This initiative suggests the adoption of “a 30 km/h (20 mph) EU-wide default speed limit for urban/residential areas”. It would reduce “injuries and fatalities, noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions” and improve the traffic flow. It would also protect the vulnerable users of the road (cyclists, children playing outside…). To ensure the subsidiarity principle is respected, the promoters consider that the local authorities should have the final say over the speed limit; they would be free to adopt another limit, provided the goals pursued with the default speed limit are also met.

More information is available here and you can join the over 33,000 people who have already signed this ECI by clicking here.

The ECI is a chance given to each of us, as citizen, to have our say in the European decision-making process. Setting up an ECI is quite a challenge, but signing one takes a few seconds. By being an active citizen, you can be a change maker! Your voice can make the difference!

Pierre-Antoine KLETHI

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