One of the obvious ways to get Europe to do what its citizens want is the relatively new European Citizens Initiative. Nearly one year on, I wanted to check out the ones that have been launched so far, to get a sense of who is active at European level and what are the issues that proactive people in Europe consider important. And also to have a look at the initiatives that did not get the authorisation to register and why.
For those of you who are not familiar with it, the homepage of the ECI says: ‘A European citizens’ initiative is an invitation to the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate. A citizens’ initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 27 member states. A minimum number of signatories is required in each of those 7 member states’.
There was some criticism over the fact that a minimum number of signatures in different member states is needed (for example for Italy you need at least 54,750; could they have said 55,000? Of course not, we are not playing with numbers here!); personally, I don’t have a problem with it because I think that if it is a European Initiative, it needs to be truly European! And for once, on the website it is all very clearly explained…Ready for this? The site is very good; ok, it does not look incredibly exciting, but it is really well done (you did not expect that from me did you?). In it, you can find all the information you need about the Initiative: what it is, how to find existing ones, old ones and not accepted ones, how to launch one yourself and what happens once you have collected enough signatures.
So, among the ongoing initiatives, an eclectic mix of causes: one pushing for the ‘protection of human life from conception’ (One of Us), sponsored by an Italian Foundation; one suggesting a 30km/h (20mph) EU-wide default speed limit for urban/residential areas (30kmh – making streets liveable!); a classic one against vivisection (Stop Vivisection); and a more unusual one for the ‘termination of the contract of free movement of persons with Switzerland’ (Kündigung Personenfreizügigkeit Schweiz); this is one of the few initiatives, by the way, to have a – relatively basic – video prominent on their site, here below:
Actually, there is another video that I should add that was made by the ECI on Media Freedom and Pluralism (European Initiative for Media Pluralism), an issue I deeply care about:
It is worth checking the site yourself to have a look at all of them – not too many in fact. More importantly we need to see, once the first initiative collects all the signatures, the timing of the response from the institutions. Will they pick up on the invitation – as they called it – in a convincing way?
My personal favourite, though, has unfortunately been rejected by the European Commission; not only it is a real a pity, but what a difference it would have made to Europe if it had been accepted and had collected enough signatures! Here is the title of the earth-shattering initiative: ‘Recommend singing the European Anthem in Esperanto‘ (I have linked the title to the reply the Commission gave to state its reasons). Gosh, some people have got time on their hands! Looked for it and of course found it on YouTube (as my Esperanto is quite rusty these days, I could easily have been fooled, so let me know if it is not Esperanto at all!!). What would have Ludwig said about this version?