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Citizens' Initiative welcome but should be opened to a wider public


15 Dec 2010


Social Europe & Jobs

Following today's European Parliament debate and vote on the EU Citizens' Initiative, a new EU regulation whereby one million citizens can call on the Commission to draft a new EU law, German GUE/NGL MEP Helmut Scholz said the provisions were to be welcomed despite some room for improvement.

He pointed to the lack of democratic legitimacy in the workings of the EU and said citizens increasingly want to be involved in the EU. "The protests we have seen recently in different member states is a clear expression of this. With the Citizens' Initiative we finally have an instrument which enables citizens to articulate their expectations and demands."

Unfortunately, some improvements to the text sought by the GUE/NGL were rejected. The group proposed to extend participation to all EU residents and not just EU citizens. Scholz warned the Commission and the Council that the Parliament would come back in three years' time to ask for these improvements. In the meantime, Scholz called on all EU citizens "to go ahead and take the initiative".

Bairbre de Brún (Ireland) said that work on this initiative represented a "major step forward" with regard to the Commission's proposal. However, she expressed her disappointment that there were some aspects of the proposal that would exclude people who ought to be able to participate, notably those who are living in the EU who do not hold EU citizenship. "It is important that we do not send out a signal that their views are not wanted or not welcome." Also, she emphasised "young people must be encouraged to involve themselves in EU policymaking". As things stand now, this was not the case.

The GUE/NGL will continue to try to improve the rules of the citizens' initiative so as to ensure, as Ms de Brún said, "that more people are able to participate and that the Commission takes action."

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
David Lundy + 32 485 50 58 12
Gianfranco Battistini + 32 475 64 66 28
Gauche Unitaire Européenne/Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group


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