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12 May, 2017

The European Court actually confirms that lobbyists can ignore citizens

It seems that the European citizens' initiative plays a decorative role inside the monstrous institutional structure of the EU, in order to give a 'flavor' of democracy to the citizens. All facts show that the real power lies in the European Commission, thus in the hands of the banking and corporate lobbyists.


On the occasion of an effort by the European citizens to stop the transatlantic agreements TTIP and CETA - which seems to downgrade further the democratic procedures and give even more power to the multinational corporations over the states - the General Court of the European Union announced on Wednesday that annuls the Commission decision to refuse to register citizens' proposal.

While with a first read, the decision appears to be a decisive victory of the European citizens over the European Commission (which is actually the top institutional weapon of the lobbyists inside the EU), the announcement, finally, leaves no doubt that the lobbies are in charge and literally can ignore citizens.

Indeed, the announcement of the European Court specifically points that “nothing justifies excluding from democratic debate legal acts seeking the withdrawal of a decision authorising the opening of negotiations with a view to concluding an international agreement, as well as acts whose object is to prevent the signing and conclusion of such an agreement.” and “The aim pursued by the European citizens’ initiative is to allow EU citizens to participate more in the democratic life of the EU, in particular, by presenting in detail to the Commission the questions raised by the initiative, by requesting that institution to submit a proposal for a EU legal act after having, as the case may be, presented the initiative at a public hearing organised at the Parliament, and therefore, by stimulating a democratic debate without having to await the adoption of the legal act whose modification or withdrawal is ultimately sought.

Yet, right after these paragraphs, a single sentence is enough to show 'who is the boss': "... it is for the Commission to decide whether or not it will accept a European citizens’ initiative ...". And not only that. The Court claims that because of this fact, the "principle of institutional balance" is not in danger!

In simple words, the European Court actually admits that the lobby-occupied European Commission is institutionally above European citizens and, therefore, can ignore them! In essence, this sentence says that whatever initiative taken by the citizens has no meaning because it will be cancelled by the lobbies to protect their interests through the European Commission.
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Below, key parts of the announcement:

The General Court rejects the Commission’s position according to which the decision seeking to withdraw from it authorisation to open negotiations with a view to concluding the TTIP could not be the subject of a European citizens’ initiative. According to the Commission, such a decision does not come within the concept of ‘legal act’, because the authorisation itself does not come within that concept due to the fact that it is preparatory and due to the absence of effects vis-à-vis third parties.

In that regard, the General Court notes in particular that the principle of democracy, which is one of the fundamental values of the EU, and the objective behind the European citizens’ initiatives (namely, to improve the democratic functioning of the EU by granting every citizen a general right to participate in democratic life) requires an interpretation of the concept of legal act which covers legal acts such as a decision to open negotiations with a view to concluding an international agreement, which (like the TTIP and the CETA) manifestly seeks to modify the legal order of the EU.

The General Court notes moreover that nothing justifies excluding from democratic debate legal acts seeking the withdrawal of a decision authorising the opening of negotiations with a view to concluding an international agreement, as well as acts whose object is to prevent the signing and conclusion of such an agreement.

The General Court rejects the Commission’s argument according to which the acts envisaged by the proposal at issue would lead to an inadmissible interference in an ongoing legislative procedure. The aim pursued by the European citizens’ initiative is to allow EU citizens to participate more in the democratic life of the EU, in particular, by presenting in detail to the Commission the questions raised by the initiative, by requesting that institution to submit a proposal for a EU legal act after having, as the case may be, presented the initiative at a public hearing organised at the Parliament, and therefore, by stimulating a democratic debate without having to await the adoption of the legal act whose modification or withdrawal is ultimately sought.

To admit such a possibility also does not infringe the principle of institutional balance, in so far as it is for the Commission to decide whether or not it will accept a European citizens’ initiative which is registered and contains the requisite signatures by presenting, by means of a communication, its legal and political conclusions on the initiative, the action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons for taking or not taking that action.

According to the General Court, nothing precludes that the action that the Commission intends to take, if any, may consist in proposing that the Council adopt the acts sought by the proposal at issue. Contrary to the Commission’s contentions, nothing prevents, as the case may be, the institutions of the EU from negotiating and concluding new draft transatlantic free-trade agreements following the adoption by the Council of acts which are the object of that proposal.

The full announcement:


Note that, by decision of 10 September 2014, the Commission refused even to register this European citizens' proposal and that the European citizens' initiative website itself admits that “The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation as a result of an initiative.

It seems that the European citizens' initiative plays a decorative role inside the monstrous institutional structure of the EU, in order to give a 'flavor' of democracy to the citizens. All facts show that the real power lies in the European Commission, thus in the hands of the banking and corporate lobbyists.

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