The European Commission is waiting for 28th May, its last day in office, to reach a decision on the European Citizen Initiative “One of Us”. This initiative, formally supported by two million people in Europe, is the largest petition in European history –it demands that Brussels no longer finances any practice that destroys human life before birth.
The European Citizen Initiative is a participative democracy mechanism created by the Treaty of Lisbon through which a million citizens can ask the European Commission to introduce a legislative proposal in the European legislative procedure. However, while each Initiative draft is controlled upstream by the Commission before being open to signature, the existing Commission furthermore claims to possess the right of veto downstream, against initiatives having yet successfully obtained the required popular support. This veto would allow it to prevent discussion by the European Parliament and Council on the demands of the initiative. In other words, with such veto power, only initiatives whose purposes please the European Commission may be discussed by the European Parliament and Council.
Thus, while the mechanism of the European Citizen Initiative was intended to overcome the democratic deficit in Brussels, this veto power would make it a travesty of participative democracy, reducing it to a right of petition to the administration. If more than a million signatures are need in order to address the Commission, that would be the opposite of democracy.
On 25th May, voting showed that Europeans widely questioned the European institutions, in particular their invasive and technocratic governance.
In the aftermath of this vote, what could the “Barroso Commission’s” choice be concerning “One of Us”, the most important European Citizen Initiative? The outgoing Commission no longer has any real political legitimacy: it is at the end of its office and has been strongly repudiated by voters. It can only settle ongoing issues. Using its veto power on the final day of its mandate, to refuse to transmit “One of Us” to the European Parliament and Council would be, for the Commission, an abuse of power that citizens have already taken away from it and an anti-democratic act. The only honourable choice the former Commission has is to accept the normal play of institutions and to submit the legislative proposal “One of Us” to democratic debate. Any other decision would be illegitimate and moreover, its lawfulness would be questionable.