With over 1.7 million signatures, the One of Us European Citizen Initiative (ECI) brought together the largest number of signatures in the history of Europe. But in 2014, the European Commission refused to hand in the legislative proposition produced by the ECI to the European Parliament. On Tuesday May 16th, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will have to determine, in front of an enlarged panel of judges if the European Commission respected its own rules or not. Grégor Puppinck, doctor in law and Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ-Strasbourg), provides for Généthique his analysis of all that is at stake concerning this decision.
Gènéthique: Why go to the European Court of Justice?
Grégor Puppinck: We consider that the European Commission did not answer seriously the request that 2 million citizens had formulated, i.e., take initiatives to stop the funding of all actions that end a human life. We are not satisfied with the substantive arguments provided by the Commission.
And the European commission should have transmitted our legislative proposition to the European Parliament. It is not up to the Commission to be the judge of our political request at this stage of the procedure, in the sense that our judicial legitimacy had already been proven by the 2 million signatures we collected. The fact that the Commission is given the possibility to make such a decision ruins the use of the EIC, conceived by the European Parliament to enable citizens to take legislative initiatives.
G: What is it that you are denouncing?
GP: By its decision, the Commission cut the wings of the initiative. We spent months collecting signatures. But that was all for noting if the Commission decides to throw away the ECI. The ECI mechanism is a democratic imposture because it gives citizens false hopes. We demand that the court renders this ECI effective by recognising that the Commission could not simply reject our initiative, and that it can be subject to judicial control if it refuses to transmit the citizens’ legislative proposition to the European Parliament.
We are offering the court the possibility the make the European Union more democratic and give back to the EIC its purpose for citizens. Indeed, since One of Us was rejected, practically nobody has made a ECI.
The Commission accepts ECIs when they are in line with what they have planned to do, but ours is in complete opposition with its policy.
G: This audience is of particular importance. Why?
GP :On a judicial point of view, this affair One of Us vs Commission is very important as it can overturn the way the power is distributed within the EU by granting the people a part of the legislative initiatives.
On an institutional point of view, the affair provides the Court of Justice of the European Union the opportunity to rebalance the institutional relations and democratise the Union.
If the CJEU adjudicates in favour of Une of Us, the case will be remembered throughout history and taught to all law students.
G: Tomorrow, the days will be devoted to hearings. When do you think the court will give its ruling?
GP: The ruling will not be given before next autumn because it takes time to deliberate, write down the decision, translate the text…