Europe has become a lot more democratic on the face of a new regulation that came into force on the 1st of April. And no, this is not a joke!
European citizens now apparently have more rights and a stronger voice in Europe. The “European citizens initiative” (ECI), the new tool of direct democracy agreed in the Lisbon treaty must provide that.
The idea is obviously ‘borrowed’ from the Swiss who have had direct democracy for yonks. One million EU citizens can now force the European Commission to start a legislative procedure on all topics within its competences. The only thing required is one million signatures. Easy! The expectations are that democracy, economic integration, environment, social rights, sustainable development will be the main issues European citizens will challenge the EU about.
The catch is obviously in the phrase “to force the EU Commission to start a legislative procedure”. They can start a procedure, but knowing the EU, this is just another way of saying “Kick the whole thing in the long grass”, i.e. we’ll pretend we’ll give you direct democracy and then we’ll pretend we’re doing something about it.
It would be a tool to create great mischief though. What if one million Greek decide that they’ve had enough of Europe and sign a petition to withdraw from the Euro? Or the Brits to get out of the EU altogether? And what if the Turks in Germany (more than one million…..) decide they want Turkey to be a full member of the EU? Will Brussels be able to delay initiatives long enou
gh for them to grind to a halt?
There are already alerts in Brussels that “this new tool can be used by Eurosceptic organizations, instead of creating a virtuous circle of European citizens and organizations working together to fill gaps and deficits of the European Union and stress the fundamental importance of political integration of the continent for the future of next generations.”
Don’t you just love Euro-speak?
Anyway, it’s going to be fun over the next few years when all sorts of organisations get their act together and hold the EU over a barrel. No doubt they’ll come up with something to stop it if it becomes too successful for ordinary citizens….