In July 2014 a citizens’ committee requested the European Commission, the EU’s highest legislative body, to register an initiative called “Stop TTIP”, which would facilitate a continent-wide debate on The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Regulation on the European citizens’ initiatives requires such an initiative to be registered, before it can begin to collect the signatures of no less than one million citizens from at least one-quarter of EU member states.
The EC refused to register the initiative, citing as its grounds that it was “outside the framework of its powers,” thereby effectively blocking a possibility of democratic debate on TTIP.
The citizen’s committee took the case to the European Court of Justice, which ruled yesterday to annul the EC’s act, thereby declaring it contrary to European Law.
The ECJ’s press release (PDF) denounces the EC’s act by noting
“particularly 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.“
Continuing in even more strongly worded language (for a higher court), 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.“
This is the highest European Court shaming the highest governing body of the European Union for being essentially undemocratic and using weak, technocratic excuses to block any attempts of generating democratic debate when it does not want that particular voice to be heard. Even when, or especially when, it is the framework of an initiative to stimulate a democratic debate which it introduced itself.