No Mr Juncker, that's not 'Happy Birthday' they're singing ... Photo: Felix Kindermann / Stop TTIP.
TTIP - Juncker's 1.1 million signature 'birthday card'
9th December 2014
Campaigners today today delivered Commission President Juncker a 'birthday card' with 1.1 million signatures from EU citizens. Yes, it really is his birthday today - but the real message was calling on him to back off from negotiations over the TTIP and CETA trade deals with the USA and Canada.
On his 60th birthday, Juncker should blow out the candles on these massively unpopular and undemocratic trade deals that are opposed by people across Europe.
On 15th July the European Commission refused to accept a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to end talks over the the TTIP and CETA, contentious trade and investment initiatives with the US and Canada.
The petition, organised by Stop TTIP, was signed by over a million citizens and passed all the Commission's criteria for a valid ECI - except one.
The Commission didn't like having 'little people' telling them what to do, specially on a project so dear to their hearts as stripping back social, environmental and health safeguards across Europe and letting US corporations rip.
So they made up a flimsy package of legal obfuscation to justify rejecting it, which they formally did on 11th September - claiming that an ECI may be formulated only positively, working towards the enactment of a legal act, not towards preventing an enactment.
Happy Birthday Mr Juncker!
But today - on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's 60th birthday - Stop TTIP was back with a second million signature petition described as a 'self-organised ECI', handed to him by Stop TTIP representatives in Brussels.
John Hilary, a member of Stop TTIP's Citizens' Committee commented: "Stop TTIP has collected more than a million signatures in record time.
"This is especially embarrassing for the European Commission as it has tried repeatedly to block any citizens' involvement in the way these treaties are being negotiated and what the outcome should be. Jean Claude Juncker should listen to the growing opposition and stop both treaties immediately.
"Politicians are always calling for citizens to get actively involved in European politics, and here are more than a million people who have done just that.
"On his 60th birthday, Juncker should blow out the candles on these massively unpopular and undemocratic trade deals that are opposed by people across Europe. One million signatures is just the beginning. We will continue our protest until TTIP and CETA are history."
And don't forget the lawsuit
In fact the required million signatures had all been collected by last Wednesday at 11.37pm - in a record time of less than two months. So by the time it was handed over today it had gathered a further 101,000 signatures!
In the process of mobilising all the signings Stop TTIP has grown into a fast-growing coalition of more than 320 civil society organisations, trade unions and consumer watchdogs from 24 EU Member States.
It has also launched a formal complaint to the European Court of Justice, pointing out that the European Citizens' Initiative (regulation 211/2011) gives citizens the right "to participate by means of a European Citizens' Initiative in the democratic life of the Union".
"There is not a syllable which indicates that only constructive, i.e. positively formulated, ECIs are to be possible", says Stop TTIP. "The instrument of an ECI is intended to enable lively participation at EU level by citizens - it is available to the citizens as a motive force or as a brake."
The massive support for the campaign reflects the underlying agenda of TTIP and CETA, which is would give unprecedented power to international corporations and thus threaten to overrule democracy, the rule of law as well as environmental and consumer protection.
In particular, the treaties would allow governments to be sued by corporations before private arbitration boards if their laws or policies damage the company's profits.
We cannot let them get away with it!
With its decision on the 'Stop TTIP' ECI, the Commission is indicating how it envisions citizen participation at the European level: purely as an arrangement for applauding decisions which have already been made.
"In forward-looking questions, this means the following for its citizens: we have to stay outside", says Stop TTIP. "We cannot just acquiesce to this. So the action before the European Court of Justice is about more than the registration of the Stop TTIP ECI."
"The Commission is attempting to create a precedent in order to prevent further Citizens' Initiatives relating to international contracts, and to give the EU institutions almost total negotiating freedom. That is a free ticket to the dismantling of democracy."
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