The organisers of the largest petition in European history which called for an end to European funding of research that destroys human embryos have taken their case to the General Court of the European Union after the European Commission vetoed the initiative in May.
On July 25th, members of the Citizen’s Initiative “One of Us” lodged an application before the court in Luxembourg against the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament, asking for the annulment of the Commission’s veto.
In its last day in office May 28th, the “Barroso Commission” rejected the initiative which demanded that Brussels no longer finance any practice that destroys human life before birth. The petition, backed by two million people, was the largest in the history of the European Institutions.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a participative democracy mechanism created by the Treaty of Lisbon, allows a million citizens to introduce a legislative proposal in the European institutions.
Pro-life groups called the decision a “travesty” and a “farce” that “flouts” democratic procedure.
In its appeal lodged Friday, One of Us points to the absence of an “appropriate answer” to the initiative and the issues raised by it. “The Commission does not respond to the assertion that the human embryo is a human being,” the committee says, adding that it “wrongfully dismisses” a test case even though it “fully relevant to the definition of the status of the embryo.”
It goes on to say that “obvious contradictions” are not addressed: that while the EU discourages embryo research, it still allows it to be financed, and that countries with the “least protective ethical measures are financially favoured.”
It adds that the Commission made various “erroneous assumptions” and does not provide any legal reason for its veto, preventing the initiative from being taken to the European Parliament. Furthermore, One of Us says the decision went against the democratic objectives of the Lisbon Treaty.
The organisation stresses this issue is not just about the right to life, but also the democratic wellbeing of the European Union. It argues that if its appeal is successful, it will show the European Citizens Initiative to be what it was meant to be, a “practicable instrument of participatory democracy.”
If it’s rejected, it says it would mean the ECI “is a fake mechanism of participative democracy.”