European Commission faces court challenge over trade talks

Alliance to launch self-organised Citizens’ Initiative on TTIP and CETA

Press release, 19 September 2014

Stop TTIP, an alliance counting over 240 organisations from across Europe, today announced that it would be appealing to the European Court of Justice against the European Commission’s rejection of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on TTIP and CETA – the trade talks being held in secret with the USA and Canada, respectively.

The organisers also announced that they would be continuing with the collection of signatures for an autonomous ECI, even without its recognition by the European Commission.

Michael Efler, member of the ECI citizens’ committee, said: “We believe the legal arguments used by the European Commission to reject the citizens’ initiative are wrong. Contrary to the Commission’s claims, the initiative should be able to challenge the negotiating mandate for TTIP and CETA.”

“International trade agreements should not be negotiated behind closed doors without public intervention,” said Efler. “This is the principle we will be fighting for at the European Court of Justice. It is unacceptable that, after secret negotiations over which we have no influence, the European Parliament and the public are presented with a fait accompli.”

Karl Baer, member of the ECI steering committee, said: “We will not be ending our protest just because the European Commission wants to gain time with an unfounded and politically motivated rejection. Democracy arises through social intervention and participation in the political process; it is not something to be granted or denied by Brussels. That is why we will be launching a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative. The European Commission is trying to ignore us; it will not succeed.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, recently announced that he would campaign for greater transparency and democratic participation during the trade negotiations. “It is now up to Mr Juncker to match his words with action and reverse the decision of the outgoing Commission,” said Baer. “Instead of operating in secret and withdrawing from the democratic process, the European Commission must finally accept that the people of Europe do not want these free trade agreements with new powers for investors and a lowering of our standards.”