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Parliament misses opportunity for wider involvement in Citizen's Initiatives


01 Dec 2010

Parliament's Constitutional Affairs committee today approved its report on the draft regulation to set up a European Citizen's Initiative, as foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty.  The change will enable any physical person to address the European Commission with a subject for legislative action as long as it falls within the competences of the Treaties.

Diana Wallis (UK, LibDem), and author of the Petition Committee's report on the subject commented:
"I welcome the vote in AFCO today which supports many of the measures for simplifying the procedure to submit a European Citizens initiative, particularly deleting the Commission's original idea of a late admissibility check after 300,000 signatures have already been gathered.

"However I regret that the vote was not as progressive and inclusive as the view of the Petitions Committee that suggested EU residents (not just citizens) from the age of 16 should be included in order to really engage young people in European policy debate. The Parliament is missing an opportunity to extend a hand to Europe's youth and our future."

DUFF_90.jpgAndrew Duff (UK, LibDem) and ALDE group coordinator on the lead committee said: "It is a pity that the other groups have voted a very restrictive interpretation of the scope of an ECI. The Treaty provides for a citizens' initiative to demand a revision of the Treaties themselves. That is logical, as it falls well within the Commission's powers to trigger a treaty amendment. Parliament is wrong to deny citizens that option. I hope that the Commission itself will insist on its freedom of manoeuvre when it comes to making proposals for changing the Treaties on the basis of popular demand."

According to Parliament's report, the Citizen's Initiative (CI) will be valid if the signatures collected come from at least 1/5th of the Member States. The legal age for signatures is left to the Member States to decide and it should not be a requirement to provide a copy of an ID card.  Furthermore, the European Commission will have to organise a public hearing on those CIs which obtain the required number of signatures. Such a hearing can be jointly organised with other EU institutions.

The plenary vote on the report will take place on 16th December in Strasbourg.

For more information, please contact:
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