Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Democracy, EU Style

I've blogged about the European Citizen's Initiative before, Bloggers4UKIP has a good piece here on how it works (or doesn't) in practice:
So what do I do? I need to save up enough money to finance a multinational petition covering at least three EU countries with at least 300,000 (yes, three-hundred-thousand) signatures.

And that's not even half way there. The European Commission then decides whether the interests of those 300,000 people from a minimum of three EU countries is worth their time or own interests shutting it down immediately, or giving it the thumbs up for phase two. Phase two can't be that big a deal can it? After all we've convinced 300,000 people from more than 3 EU countries to sign a petition and then we've convinced the EU Commission that all 300,000 people's interests are worthy of their attention. So what more?

After the thumbs up, we need a total of 700,000 more signatures from a minimum of a total of nine EU countries. Oh and that's not the only thing. You know those signatures I've been banging on about? I slipped up. I need to go back to those 1 million people and convince them to also give me their national identification number, in the form of their social security numbers or passport numbers.

Not only that, due to data protection laws I have to also invest in security measures to protect the information of over 1 million people with a minimum of 7 million pieces of information. The costs of all of this would be a minimum of half a million pounds. That's assuming I get the bare minimum of requirements fulfilled.

And even after following all that successfully, it's still not enough. The EU then turns round and says it still doesn't count:

The entry into force of the EU's new citizens' initiative (ECI) - a petition procedure under the Lisbon Treaty allowing European citizens to demand action in a particular area - is likely to be welcomed by a legal battle between Greenpeace and the EU institutions.

A legal battle? Why? After all...

The environmental NGO has successfully collected the required 1 million signatories in a petition calling on the EU to ban GMOs...

Job done surely?
...but officials from both the European Commission and the European Parliament say the move is premature.
"We've always said that we take their opinion very seriously but it's not an ECI as the legislation is not yet in place," [said] Michael Mann, the commission's administration spokesman.
So what about those one million signatures already collected?
"Strictly speaking, they would have to do it all over again," he added.

It's almost like they're making the process as difficult as possible. Surely that's unthinkable? Still, at least more taxpayers money will get wasted spent in the meantime:

A European Parliament official concurred. "We may end up going to court on this," the contact said.

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