Brussels, Friday April 18, 2015
On April 15th, the One of Us Initiative Citizens Committee sent its formal response (Réplique) to the General Court of the European Union with regards to the submissions made by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council in the case that oppose them to One of Us (applicant).
In its defense that was solely based on procedural points (see our previous post), the European Commission argued that the One of Us application to the Court was not receivable, based on the fact that the Commission’s Communication would not be an act to bear legal effects to third parties.
The One of Us Citizens Committee maintains and argues that its application to the European Court of Justice is receivable. It bases this assertion on the fact that, by its nature and its content, the Commission’s Communication is in fact a legal act that can be the subject of request for annulment.
The European Commission argumentation line is that the One of Us application to the Court was not receivable, based on the fact that the Commission’s Communication would not be an act to bear legal effects to third parties.
In its conclusion, the response by the One of Us Citizens Committee, through the voice of its defendants, reaffirms its request to the European Commission to revise or cancel its rejection of the demands of nearly 2 million Citizens:
(One of Us) respectfully maintain their request to annul Communication COM (2014) 355 final (the European Commission’s rejection of One of Us) (…)
In the same response document send to the Court, the Citizens Committee highlights the self-admission by the European Commission that the content of its response to One of Us (Communication COM (2014) 355 final) may suffers “various inconsistencies and misrepresentations” (§51).
The One of Us Citizens Committee wonders at such an admission, and at the lack of efforts made by the Commission to defend the content of its position to reject “One of Us” (COM (2014) 355 final). It also regrets and note the repeated assertion (6 times in the Commission’s response) that the sole purpose of the European Citizens Initiative is to allow a debate among citizens:
It is “not an act intended to produce legal effects vis-à- vis third parties” and therefore not subject to any judicial review. It is argued (however without any basis in law) that the sole purpose of that Communication is “to allow for a political debate”, and that therefore the “various inconsistencies and misrepresentations” that pervade this Communication are to be considered “irrelevant“.
This view by the European Commission, at a time when a reform of very functioning of the European Citizens Initiative instrument is being debated in the European Parliament (the “Schöpflin” report), proves how the One of Us lawsuit “is not merely about the specific merits of the European Citizens’ Initiative ONE OF US, but on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) instrument in general” and the place given to citizens by the EU institutions in the European democratic fabric.
Reminder about the context: following the European Commission’s refusal to provide an appropriate follow up on “ONE OF US”, the most successful European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) so far, the organizers (the Citizens Committee) of the ECI have brought a formal action (case T 561/14) against the European Commission to the General Court of the EU. In their application, which was filed on 25 July 2014, they have demanded that the Commission’s reply to their initiative, which was issued as Communication COM(2014) 355 final on 28 May 2014, be annulled, and that the Commission be obliged to issue another, more appropriate reply to the pro-life ECI that was endorsed by 1.7 million Europeans.
The One of Us European Federation for Life and Human Dignity is an international non-profit, non-political and non-denominational Federation legally registered under Belgian law.
It is legal entity that strictly differs from the above mentioned European Citizen’s initiative and is composed to date by 28 national and local member entities providing care, counsel and advocacy free services to all throughout Europe.