A Brilliant Brussels Idea!

At last, some really good news from the European Institutions!  They’re launching the “European Citizens’ Initiative”.  You’ll be able to set up a petition, and when you’ve collected the signatures, you can come to Brussels and present your idea or your issue to the parliament and to the Commission.  (There may be a good lunch in it too).

Of course there are terms and conditions.  You’ll have to collect a million signatures.  You must do it within twelve months.  The signatures must come from at least seven EU countries, and there is a minimum threshold for each country to qualify.  In the case of the UK, it’s about 55,000.

The petition must be operated by citizens, not by charities or NGOs.  But of course NGOs will in fact use the initiative — they’ll just nominate an activist as the nominal citizen.

Cynics might point out that many of the NGOs that might use the initiative are themselves funded by the European Commission.  But Hey!  What the hell?  That’s the way we do things around here — the Commission paying pseudo-independent lobby groups to lobby itself, and feed back its own opinions.

And how does the Commission respond to a petition?  What does it have to do?  Well nothing, really.  It can consider the petition.  It can write a letter saying why it won’t act, or (more likely) promising to keep the issue in mind.  But it has absolutely no obligation at all.  Zilch.  In this respect it’s like the much vaunted Yellow Card scheme, by which national Parliaments, after enormous efforts, can question a Commission measure, and the Commission’s obligation is limited to sending a letter acknowledging receipt.

In other words, mere window-dressing.  A process designed to give a spurious appearance of democracy legitimacy where none exists.

I debated the initiative on a BBC TV discussion programme yesterday with Commissioner Sefcovic and Danish MEP Dan Jorgensen.  The Commissioner helpfully said that they couldn’t guarantee any action.  After all, he said, a million people were way less than 1% of European citizens.  Suppose the other 99% disagreed?  Good question, Commissioner, but it rather undermines the whole point.

They say they want direct citizen participation in the decision-making process.  Yet they fight tooth-and-nail to block referendums, and when they get a NO vote in a national referendum, they ignore it, or they by-pass it, and carry on regardless.  So much for citizen participation.  The EU institutions, in fact, treat the voter with utter contempt.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that they’re launching this wonderful new initiative on April 1st.  All Fools Day.  They are, indeed, taking us for fools.

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9 Responses to A Brilliant Brussels Idea!

  1. April the First indeed. The irony is not lost on me. Whilst at first sight this may seem a Brilliant Idea, when did the EU Commission actually EVER come out with a Brilliant Idea? Alas, this Idea is no exception to the rule. It is naught but a diversion to waste the time of activists and campaigners in trying to present a petition to Commissioners who are not bound to take ANY notice whatsoever. They are NOT Democratically accountable. Alternatively the Petition might be presented to the EU Parliament, which cannot make any decision to over-rule the fixed views and plans of the EU Commission, which are simply a dogma, invented by the Club of Rome, the Club of Madrid, and the Club of Budapest. The rules to make such petitions are made deliberately awkward, though not impossible, so as to waste the maximum time of activists and campaigners, whilst at the same time ensuring that they have no time left over to actually pursue some achievable goals. Though some of you may think I am being cynical, some simple fact checking will no doubt confirm my worst fears.

    [www.clubofrome.org] – dogma central
    [www.clubmadrid.org] – megalomania central
    [www.clubofbudapest.org] – imperialist ideology central

  2. Simon says:

    How about an EU-wide petition to abolish the EU? I think that would raise a fair few signatures. 🙂

  3. Heather Alibakir says:

    Why don’t they just settle for giving everyone who wants it a nice lunch. Would probably be cheaper than the admin. for this hare-brained scheme. On second thoughts, apologies to hares.

    • Heather Alibakir says:

      Why don’t they just settle for giving everyone who wants it a nice lunch. Would probably be cheaper than the admin. for this hare-brained scheme. On second thoughts, apologies to hares.

      PS. Previous post when I said “Yes” three times, it was supposed to be in reply to the proposition for a referendum on leaving the EU. Sorry for the confusion

  4. Gail says:

    I love your sense of humour, but on this occasion I think you meant it in all seriousness. Long may you reign in the hallowed halls of the EU. Don’t let them grind you down.

  5.  lighthouse says:

    I agree Roger
    – at last someone on line among all the Euphoria (EU phoria) who sees through this!

    Talk indeed about an April Fool’s joke!
    1 year to collect 1 million names with passport numbers etc from 7 states – at the end of which the Commission “consideration” means ignoring or altering the proposal at will!
    ” the Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens’ initiative, *if any*, and the reasons for doing or not doing so ”

    A complete waste of time!

    As seen from the above link, it was also used as an excuse for the undemocratic ban of common light bulbs and other measures, in the EU legislative processes described.

  6. Pingback: Spread the word about this EU push for citizen participation | Eurology

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