EP Initiative Report calls on Commission to take action on ECI

eciBesides “ONE OF US” there are two other European Citizens’ Intitiatives (ECIs) that have been successful in collecting more than 1 million signatures. One of these is “Right2Water“, an initiative asking the European Commission to come forward with legislative proposals that would “recognize access to water as a human right”.

The problem with this proposal is that the formal enactment of new “human rights” (e.g., by including them into the EU’s Fundamental Rights Charter) is clearly outside the possible scope of an ECI.

This nonwithstanding, a Communist MEP from Ireland, Lynn Boylan, has drafted on behalf of the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee a new  – non legally binding – “Initiative Report” (No 2014/2239 (INI)) that, if adopted, would call on the Commission  to come forward with legislative proposals to follow up on “Right2Water”. Some of the language in the draft is worth noting, given that – although the Left/Liberal/Green MEPs supporting it may not be aware – the claims it is making for “Right2Water” could a fortiori be made for “ONE OF US”.

For example:

“A. whereas ‘Right2Water’ is the first European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to have met the requirements set out in Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 on the citizens’ initiative and to have been heard by Parliament after receiving the support of almost 1.9 million citizens;” [right, – but “ONE OF US” received even more support from citizens]

“D. whereas the ECI was set up as a mechanism of participatory democracy with the aim of encouraging citizens’ direct involvement in EU decision-making, and is an excellent opportunity for the EU institutions to re-engage with citizens;” [indeed!]

“E. whereas Eurobarometer surveys have consistently shown very low levels of trust in the EU among EU citizens in recent years;” [indeed!]

“1. Takes the view that the ECI is a unique democratic mechanism which has significant potential to help bridge the gap between European and national social and civil society movements, and to promote participatory democracy at the EU level;”[indeed!]

3. Considers it regrettable that the communication lacks any real ambition and limits itself to reiterating existing commitments; [This could a fortiori be said of the Commission’s reply to “One OF US”, which was much less than unambitious…]

4. Calls on the Commission, in line with the primary objective of the Right2Water ECI, to coming forward with legislative proposals – including a possible revision of the WFD and of the Drinking Water Directive – that would recognise universal access and the human right to water, and considers it regrettable that this has not been done to date; believes that if the Commission fails to do so, the ECI will lose credibility as a democratic mechanism in the eyes of citizens; [With regard to “Right2Water the Commission has a pretty good excuse not to come forward with such a proposal: namely, that this would be outside the Commission’s competences. By contrast, no such obstacle prevents the Commission from coming forward with a legislative draft in line with the proposal made by “ONE OF US”…  and indeed its failure to do so is severely undermining the credibility of the ECI as a democratic mechanism.]

We may add that, contrary to what the draft report says, access to water is not really legally recognized as a “human right” – it has been affirmed as such in various political statements, but not in a legally binding international treaty. Contrary to this the right to life, which is the right that the ECI “ONE OF US” is based upon, is indeed the cornerstone of all international human rights treaties.

If the Greenies and Lefties are making such strong statements with regard to “Right2Water”, they will, for the sake of consistency, have to give the same or even stronger support to “ONE OF US”.

Let us wait and see…