Între orele 9.00 și 12.30 (10.00 și 13.30 ora României) la Parlamentul European vor avea loc audieri publice pe tema Inițiativei Cetățenești Europene „Unul dintre noi”.
Cu peste 1,7 milioane de semnături valide de la cetățeni din toate țările UE (printre care circa 140.000 din România), aceasta este cea mai de succes inițiativă cetățenească de până acum. „Unul dintre noi” solicită stoparea finanțării de la bugetul UE pentru orice activitate care implică distrugerea embrionilor umani.
Audierea este organizată de Comisia pentru Dezvoltare, Comisia Juridică și Comisia pentru Industrie, Cercetare și Energie ale Parlamentului European.
Vom reveni cu concluziile.
We have not only come to testify. The Citizen’s Initiative “One of Us” does not end today. On the contrary, today is the beginning of the legislative process of shared initiative.
Our initiative holds the EU institutions not only to their moral responsibility, but also to their democratic responsibility.
The European Citizens’ Initiative mechanism was created in order to share the European legislative initiative with European citizens. This instrument aims to open the EU to citizens’ participation, and strengthen its democratic legitimacy the weakness of which was so heavily felt for so many years. It is now vital for the credibility of the European institutions that the expectations and hopes that are related to this proposal are not disappointed.
The “One of Us” Initiative is not only the one that has attracted the most support across Europe and is the most representative, but it is also the first to date to contain a specific legislative proposal that concretely specifies the changes we would like to see made to European Union legislation.
During the official registration of the Initiative, the legislative proposal was subject to prior review by the Commission which has verified and certified that it fully complies with the fundamental rights and basic values of the primary law of the European Union.
In addition, this proposal is simple and realistic and will not incur expenses for the EU budget. There are therefore neither practical obstacles nor substantive considerations which could justify a Commission decision not to launch a legislative procedure based on the content of our Initiative. We therefore expect the European Commission to introduce our legislative proposal and submit it for consideration by the Parliament and the Council, with some purely technical modifications which may be necessary, but which do not affect the substance of this proposal.
The political desirability of the legislative proposal is demonstrated by the popular support of two million people, and it is not for the Commission to decide on this point at this stage of the proceedings. The Commission does not consider the political desirability of a Citizens’ Initiative: it is the people directly who do, since more than one million citizens support the Initiative.
It is very clear that the purpose of Article 11 of the TEU is to give citizens the initiative of legislative procedures such as this one, without it being possible for it to be blocked in an arbitrary manner.
What would be the point of the mechanism of Citizens’ Initiative if only the proposals that appeal to the European Commission had a chance to be introduced into the legislative process! What good would it do to gather more than one million signatures? The Citizens’ Initiative mechanism would be useless. Worse, it would be a caricature of participatory democracy, which would further reduce the popular legitimacy of the European institutions.
Because it is up to the next Parliament and the Council of the European Union which are vested with legislative powers, it is for them to discuss and vote on the legislative project proposed by the “One of Us” Initiative.
Be assured that we will never give up.
European Dignity Watch, April 10, 2014
It was a real thriller. But the result couldn’t be better for the proponents of the biggest Citizen Initiative of the EU, One of Us. The European Parliament has never before, in its history, seen such a frank, honest and high-level debate about the inconsistencies of the EU regarding the equal protection of every human being from the moment of conception onwards.
What went on behind the scenes?
Two days before the hearing, the Citizens’ Committee received a letter with a draft agenda, which has been changed without the consent of the Citizens’ Committee. As it turned out, Parliament tried to give minimal speaking time to the representatives of ‘One of Us’ while filling the slots with statements of MEPs. Given the controversies that One of Us has caused over the last two years in some circles, certain MEPs were seemingly attempting to lecture One of Us instead of listening, as would be appropriate for such a hearing.
It was particularly shocking to see that the first round of statements provided speaking slots for four MEPs and two Commissioners before even allowing the Citizens’ Committee to present the initiative and its objectives.
As if that were not enough, an MEP who had publicly stated in recent days that his aim in participating in the Public Hearing was to demolish ‘One of Us’ which he tried to dismiss with hate speech as “a bunch of religious extremists” had been granted three speaking slots in the changed programme.
A letter of protest with an emergency request to change the agenda of the hearing was sent in the early hours of this morning to President Martin Schulz and the 4 chairs of the parliamentary committees scheduled to give their opinion at the hearing.
This morning at 8:50 while the room was filled to capacity with 400 people who were eagerly awaiting the hearing, Gregor Puppinck, the representative of the ‘One of Us’ Citizens’ Committee threatened to call off the hearing if Parliament would not withdraw their agenda that was tantamount to forcing a sham hearing, designed to limit the freedom to express what ‘One of Us’ stand for.
Finally, at 9:15, the hearing began 15 minutes late with an agenda changed in order to comply with the requests that had been made by ‘One of Us.’
From that moment onwards, we saw a highly sophisticated debate, the best ever to be held at the European Parliament on the banning of EU funding into any activity that involves or presupposes the destruction of human embryos.
Gregor Puppinck, speaking on behalf of ‘One of Us,’ opened the meeting by saying: “Our request is simple, precise and in accordance with EU law. We ask for the inclusion of an ethics clause in the financial regulation of the EU that excludes explicitly any destruction of human embryos.”
His introductory statement didn’t leave any space for misinterpretation about the goals and objectives of the ECI ‘One of Us.’ It calls for legislative action by the European Commission and in this way, the hearing was not the end of a Citizens’ Initiative, but the beginning of such a legislative procedure. One that we are determined to take through to completion.
Two thematic presentations followed; one on embryonic research delivered by Prof. Filippo Vari, which formulated a call for legal consistency with the Brüstle judgment of the European Court of Justice clarifying that the human embryo is entitled to legal protection from conception onwards and a second one delivered by Sophia Kuby, Director of European Dignity Watch, on EU development aid and abortion. Her presentation exposed the EU funding of abortion worldwide and called upon the European Commission to raise the ethical standard and the legal coherency of its development aid and public health policies.
Numerous statements by MEPs strongly supported the call to initiate a legislative procedure to ban EU funding for embryo destructive activities.
While both, the proponents of ‘One of Us’ and the MEPs speaking in favour of the initiative delivered sound legal thinking, solid facts and scientific evidence to support their claims, most MEPs speaking against the initiative sought to overbid each other with unfound criticism, wilful misinterpretations of the goals of the initiative as being against women, against development aid and other allegations that could have easily been avoided if these MEPs had made the effort to read the text ‘One of Us’ proposes.
The statement issued by the European Humanist Federation gives an idea of the arguments used to counter the initiative.
Puppinck concluded the meeting, saying that refusing the ‘One of Us’ initiative that has fulfilled all the criteria requested by the European Commission would be tantamount to an abuse of power. The Commission had already verified and confirmed that the legislative proposal of ‘One of Us’ falls within the competence of the EU, respects European law and fundamental rights. Furthermore, the political legitimacy of the initiative has been demonstrated by the collection of almost the double of the required number of signatures (1.7 million registered, over 2 million received).
Puppinck insisted that it is not up to the European Commission to judge whether or not the initiative is politically opportune. Rather, in order to respect the mechanism of participatory democracy established by the Lisbon treaty, the European Commission has an obligation to respond to the petition by introducing a full-fledged legislative process according to the demands of One of Us.
We will send you shortly the interventions made by Gregor Puppinck, Filippo Vari and Sophia Kuby on behalf of One of Us at the hearing. You find the video of the hearing here.