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Lack of action on fifth-successful European citizens’ initiative, Minority Safepack, would be a letdown for European democracy

Lack of action on fifth-successful European citizens’ initiative, Minority Safepack, would be a letdown for European democracy

19-01-2021

On 15 January 2021 the European Commission stated that no legislative action will be taken on the European citizens’ initiative (ECI), Minority Safepack, the fifth initiative to successfully submit the required one million signatures since the ECI entered into force in 2012. Democracy International believes that if this would be the end of the process, it would be a setback for the European Citizens’ Initiative and for European democracy. Therefore we call on all three institutions to continue to work with the organisers in order to fulfill the promise of the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Minority Safepack, an initiative that submitted over one million signatures to the European Commission in January 2020, proposed nine demands to the European Commission on the protection and conservation of diverse minority nationals, languages, cultures across Europe. In addition to the signatures, Minority Safepack received the strongest political support amongst all ECIs to date. The Commission however stated that further action will not be taken on the initiative’s demands, due to already existing legislation on the subject that support the initiative’s goals. This should not be the end of the initiative in question, rather this should be the start of a broader discussion with all three EU institutions and the organisers, as well as the broader public.

A public hearing on the initiative was held by the European Parliament in October 2020, and a resolution of the European Parliament on Minority Safepack was adopted in December 2020. Two-thirds of the European Parliament voted in favor of the resolution and supported the initiative, becoming the first ECI to receive a formal endorsement of the European Parliament. Moreover, the initiative received the support of several regional and national parliaments. Democracy International calls on the European Council and European Parliament to follow-up to the Commission’s response to the initiative and review if there are possibilities for improvement in the existing legislation on the subject.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is the only instrument of transnational direct democracy in the world, which allows EU citizens to invite the European Commission to propose legislation on an issue after collecting one million signatures. The instrument has long been criticized by European civil society including Democracy International to leave only a minimal legal and political impact on EU decision-making. A lack of response to successful initiatives undermines the instrument and European participatory democracy. To strengthen democracy in Europe, citizens must be responded to adequately in the framework of the ECI.

 

Further information:

Joint Statement with ECAS and IRI

European Commission communication on response

European Parliament resolution

 

For questions, please contact:

Daniela Vancic

European Program Manager

vancic@democracy-international.org

+49 221 66966531

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