In the lawsuit through which they are challenging the European Commission’s inadequate reply to their successful initiative, the Organizers’ Committee of the European citizens’ initiative (ECI) “ONE OF US” have now replied to the Commission’s statement of defense.
In their reply, the Citizens’ Committee serenely expresses the view that it can already now consider itself as the winner in this dispute at least from a moral point of view:
No effort at all is made to defend the material content of Communication COM (2014) 355 final, which, as the Commission itself appears to admit, suffers from “various inconsistencies and misrepresentations” (§51). Instead, the Commission relies on purely formal arguments, according to which that Communication is “not an act intended to produce legal effects vis-àvis 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”.
With such a defense, “ONE OF US” argues, the Commission will leave the courtroom as a loser even in case it wins the case on formal grounds:
If … the Commission’s position should prevail, shame and condemnation would not fall upon the applicants, but upon Regulation 211/2011, which would then appear to be an irredeemably useless and inept piece of legislation. Ultimately, the Commission (and, with it, the Parliament and the Council) would obtain nothing else but their own condemnation as the drafters and makers of this Regulation, through which they have (intentionally?) created expectations they were not willing to live up to. Regulation 211/2011, touted as a great step forward for citizens’ participation in the political process, would finally be revealed to be nothing but an empty shell.
Regarding the Commission’s argument that it was possible to adopt a policy to adequately protect the human embryo without clarifying the embryo’s legal and ontological status, the Citizens’ Committee has the following comment:
One would be curious to understand what the European Commission has in mind when it says that it is not necessary to take position “in the abstract” on the legal status of the human embryo. Does that mean that in the Commission’s opinion the legal status of the embryo should be assessed “concretely”, i.e. on a case-by-case basis? Do some human embryos deserve a different legal status from others? If so, what would be the criteria for such case-by case assessment? And how would such an approach be compatible with the principle of human dignity, i.e. with the understanding that each human being has inherent dignity irrespective of its specific condition and situation?
Even if it may be not more than just a lapsus linguae, the Commission’s statement that it is not necessary “in the abstract” to take position on the legal status of the embryo is revealing. It shows this institution’s lack of understanding not only of this specific moral issue, but of human dignity in general. The legal status of a human embryo, or of human beings in general, cannot be determined in any other way than “in the abstract”. If we were to make human rights and human dignity depend on the situation or condition of a concrete person, we would thereby in fact abolish both human rights and dignity as universal concepts.