How to save the European Citizens’ Initiative


How to save the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – Parliament to vote on Schöpflin report

Ahead of tomorrow’s vote on the Schöpflin report on the European Citizens’ Initiative, Italian GUE/NGL MEP Barbara Spinelli outlined her views for and against the report and why it is important to save the ECI:

“The European Union discovered participatory democracy after a crisis: Ireland’s ‘No’ vote to the Treaty of Nice in 2001. The European Citizens’ Initiative, that is now part of the Treaties, was a response to that crisis. However, the crisis is getting worse and participatory democracy is moribund: no legislative proposals have followed successful Initiatives.

“Although the Schöpflin report is far from perfect, because it does not allow modifications to the Treaties, it was adopted unanimously in the Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) Committee since it greatly eases the legal follow-up to the Initiatives.

“But I call on this Parliament to reject amendment 4 to paragraph 30 which will transform the ECI into a bow without arrows. This amendment urges the Commission to start preparing a legal act on successful ECIs but only after issuing a positive opinion.

“Up until now 29 initiatives out of 49 submissions have gone through the process of registration and only three of them have reached the 1 million signature threshold. Only the ECI Right2Water received a positive – although vague – communication from the European Commission. None of the successful ECIs has led to legislative follow-up.  In addition, Commissioner Malmström, answering petitions submitted against the TTIP, stated recently: ‘I do not take my mandate from the European people’. If that is the case, I am curious to know from whom does the European Commission take its mandate?”

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Come salvare l’Iniziativa cittadina europea

Iniziativa cittadina: la democrazia come Kindergarten?

Mercoledì 18 marzo al centro Mundo B di Bruxelles si è svolto un seminario-brainstorming informale organizzato da Barbara Spinelli e Carsten Berg (coordinatore generale di ECI Campaign) sul tema “The Crises of Europe: What Role for the European Citizens’ Initiative?”.

Hanno partecipato al seminario:

Barbara Spinelli (Altra Europa con Tsipras), Carsten Berg (The Citizens Initiative), Pier Virgilio Dastoli (Movimento Europeo Internazionale), Alessandro Manghisi (Ufficio Barbara Spinelli), Sophie von Hatzfeldt (Democracy International), Norbert Hagemann (Ufficio Helmut Scholz – Die Linke), Jan Willem Goudriaan (European Federation of Public Service Unions-EPSU), Elisa Bruno (European Citizens Action Service – ECAS), Raymond Van Ermen (European Partners for Environment – EPE), Rafael Torres (Close the Gap), Carmen Alvarez Acero (Podemos), Laetitia Veritier (Europe +), Mattia Brazzale (Associazione Delle Agenzie Della Democrazia Locale – ALDA), Giovanni Melogli (Alliance International de journalistes – European media initiative).

Questo il testo dell’intervento di Barbara Spinelli

The ECI: Democracy as a Kindergarten?

We are here not only to discuss the technicalities of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI, based on article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty): if it has to be organised differently, if its online presence can be improved, if data protection is respected, if the time given for the collection of signatures (one year, for the collection of 1 million of signatures in 7 countries at least) is too short. These are important methodological questions, but not the essential ones. We know from Heidegger that the essence of technology is nothing technological, and is never neutral.

We are here because what was built in this continent after the war – the unification of Europe – is in great danger of dissolving. Large numbers of citizens no longer believe in this unity, nor in its capacity to overcome the divisions among its peoples and its States. The ECI was born almost ten years ago because of what was already called, during the Prodi Commission, a “democratic deficit”. Economic crisis – which began in the United States in 2007 and then spilled over to Europe – has brought democracy well beyond that “deficit”, pushing it to the brink of a precipice.

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