European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP rejected / Alliance announces resistance
The Stop-TTIP Alliance, initiator of a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) against the TTIP and CETA international trade & investment agreements, today announced its opposition to the European Commission’s decision to block the ECI.
“Now the battle really begins,” said Michael Efler, contact person of the ECI, which currently represents almost 230 organizations from 21 EU countries. “The rejection of the ECI only confirms the Commission’s strategy to exclude citizens and parliaments from the TTIP and CETA negotiations. Instead of paying attention to citizens, it is just lobbyists that are being listened to.”
In its rejection of the ECI, the European Commission claims that the negotiating mandates on TTIP and CETA are not legal acts but internal preparatory acts between EU institutions and therefore not contestable via an ECI.
“The Commission’s view that only acts with an effect on third parties are permissible for an ECI is obviously a legal error. The negotiating mandate of the Commission is a formal decision of the Council and therefore a legal act. If the Commission’s legal opinion had any substance, then in plain English this would mean that Europe’s population is excluded from participation in the development of any kind of international agreements – information that is as frightening as it is scandalous,” according to Efler.
What’s more, the Commission claims that it cannot make negative ratification proposals and therefore cannot comply with the ECI demand not to conclude the CETA and TTIP negotiations. “Contrariwise, this means that citizens can only applaud international negotiations carried out by the Commission, but not criticize them,” said Efler.
Prior to the official submission of the ECI, the Stop-TTIP Alliance commissioned legal counsel, and based on its recommendation is now considering taking legal action against the Commission’s decision, including through the European Court of Justice.
“Instead of responding to concerns about a trade policy devoid of people, the Commission has refused a healthy debate,” said Efler. “From a citizen’s perspective this looks very much like a despotic act alienating people throughout Europe. It is grist to the mill of the
Against this background the Alliance also calls upon the new President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to correct this anti-democratic decision and to honour his promise to ensure democracy and transparency.
“Apparently the Commission is afraid of this ECI, which has the potential to become the most successful citizens’ initiative so far,” said Efler. “If the Brussels bureaucracy thinks that this is how it can stop people’s protests against TTIP and CETA, then it is mistaken. We will not allow the Commission to tie our hands. ”
The EU Commission’s justification for rejection:
Legal opinion by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kempen: