By Jasmin Hiry
On 29 July 2019, Advocate General Bobek confirmed the General Court’s ruling in One of Us. His opinion in Case C-418/18P Puppinick and Others v European Commission has been much awaited, as it deals with a so far largely unaddressed aspect of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – the potential outcome of a successful initiative.
The ECI was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty and constitutes the first supranational tool of participatory democracy. It allows one million citizens, from at least one quarter of the Member States to invite the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties (Article 11(4) TEU & Article 7 Regulation 211/2011). Regulation (EU) No 211/2011, which will soon be replaced by Regulation (EU) 2019/788, lays down the concrete procedure and conditions required for an ECI. The procedure consists of three steps – (1) registration, (2) collection of support and ultimately, (3) submission of a successful initiative, which is one that meets the threshold of one million supporters, to the Commission for examination. So far, the case law has largely dealt with the first stage of this procedure (see e.g. C-589/15 P Anagnostakis or C-420/16P Izsák and Dabis). Puppinick, however, is the very first case before the Court of Justice dealing with the outcome of an ECI. Continue reading
By James Organ
The European Citizens Initiative (ECI) is an agenda-setting tool that gives EU citizens an opportunity to directly influence EU policy. There were high expectations of the ECI enhancing EU democracy when launched in 2012, but only 3 ECIs have so far managed to collect the one million signatures needed to request the Commission to propose a legal act of the Union. EU citizen appetite for direct democracy remains strong, however, and there has been a recent resurgence in the ECI. The number of new initiatives has increased – including last week an ECI aiming to strengthen EU citizenship in the face of Brexit – and new ECIs are being strongly supported, with the Ban Glyphosate ECI gathering almost 700,000 signatures in less than 3 months.
The other important area of ECI activity has been in the General Court where citizens are challenging the Commission’s restrictive approach to ECI registration: almost 40% of ECIs rejected to date. The first three judgments upheld the Commission’s registration decisions, but in the Minority Safepak case ECI organisers successfully challenged a Commission ECI registration decision for the first time. Published last month, the Court decision itself was only a minor, narrow victory for the ECI that left many questions still to be answered in its on-going legal saga. However, following last week’s surprising Commission response to the judgment, the annulment of the Commission’s decision to refuse registration of the Minority Safepak ECI could yet be a landmark decision in defending EU citizens’ rights of democratic participation and direct democracy in the EU. Continue reading
By Thomas Verellen
The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) recently added a new chapter to the long-running chain-novel on the relationship between the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and other areas of EU external action. In its judgment of 14 June 2016, the Court’s Grand Chamber answered questions on the choice of legal basis (CFSP versus AFSJ) of a Council decision concluding a transfer agreement between the EU and Tanzania, and on the meaning of Article 218(10) TFEU on the sharing of information by the Council with the Parliament as it pertains to treaty-making in the CFSP.
The ruling is interesting, as it is perhaps indicative of a relaxed, rather pragmatic, approach to the politically thorny question of the CFSP’s scope, as well as revealing of a principled effort by the Court to further embed the CFSP into the EU legal order. In this sense, the Court’s approach in Somali Pirates II is structurally similar to the one undertaken in the recent case of H v Council on the scope of the CJEU’s jurisdiction in CFSP-disputes.
In the following post, I briefly develop both aspects of this equation – pragmatism with regard to the scope of the CFSP versus principle with regard to the reach of EU constitutional principles into the CFSP – and I conclude with a brief reflection on the normative issue of whether the Court stays within its role as a judicial body, where I suggest the CJEU’s approach fits squarely within its duty to say what the law is. Before proceeding any further, however, a few words of background are in order. Continue reading