The General Court upholds citizens’ rights

Judgment of 10 May 2017, in Case T-754/14 :

The General Court annuls the Commission’s refusal to register the proposed European citizens’ initiative (ECI) ‘Stop TTIP’.

The General Court upholds citizens’ rights !

The ‘Stop TTIP’ Citizens’ Committee, having collected 3.3 million signatures, submitted to the European Commission a proposed European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) [1].

The European Commission refused to register it. The Citizens’ Committee then brought an action before the General Court for the annulment of that Commission decision.

The General Court upheld the action (judgment T-754/14) [2].

The Commission argued, inter alia, that the Commission and the Council enjoyed sufficient indirect democratic legitimacy, so that a citizens’ request arriving at a preparatory stage of a legislative procedure would be unnecessary and would furthermore constitute an inadmissible interference in this procedure ; and that the citizens should have waited for an agreement to be concluded before being able to challenge its appropriateness.

The General Court rejected, one by one, the arguments put forward by the Commission – which are revealing a restrictive approach on democracy and citizens’ rights – by emphasizing the principle of democracy enshrined in the Treaties.

While the practical usefulness of this legal action is seriously reduced by the fact that the CETA has in the meantime been ratified by the European Council and European Parliament, Union Syndicale Fédérale can only welcome this judgment for the principles it has upheld [3].

It is only by siding with citizens that Europe can reverse the steam (Brexit, rise of the extreme right and nationalism) and regain their confidence.

Vassilis Sklias/EPSU-CJ

[1] What is an ECI ? The ECI was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon (Article 11 TEU and Article 24 TFEU). The procedures and conditions required for a citizens’ initiative are set out in Regulation (EU) 211/2011.[2] The Press Release in other languages : bg es cs de el en fr hr it hu nl pl pt ro sk sl.[3] ‘Stop TTIP’ Press Release.