EC CITIZENS' INITIATIVE
26 Mar, 2012
On April 1st 2012 The European Commission will be launching its new Citizens’ initiative to allow its population to make legislative proposals. This will represent a great opportunity for European employers to press directly for the repeal or modification of EU Directives in the social and employment fields.
The Federation of European Employers (FedEE) strongly supports the widening of democratic rights in the European Union by giving citizens the opportunity to raising legislative petitions that the European Commission will find it very difficult politically to turn down.
The starting point for launching a proposal for a legislative change is that a committee is formed of at least seven citizens from seven different EU member states. The proposal is then registered on the European Citizens’ initiative website and the European Commission then has two months to consider whether the proposal falls within the EU charter and is not ‘manifestly contrary’ to EU values. Once given clearance the organisers then have one year to gather one million signatures in support of the measure. The Commission has even produced some free software to allow for the online collection of signatures. Once gathered the signatures must be verified and submitted to the Commission – who will then have three months to consider the proposal. If the proposal is turned down then the Commission must state publicly its reasons for doing so.
Although this initiative has been conceived as providing an opportunity for individual citizens to extend their democratic rights, it will undoubtedly also become a useful vehicle for interest groups to go beyond lobbying and directly challenge the European Commission to move in new policy directions.
Robin Chater, FedEE’s Secretary-General, welcomes this new opportunity to influence political policy in the employment field… “Democratic freedoms should be freedoms for all to use. The European economy relies very heavily on multinational companies and yet the EU has done very little to encourage their establishment or growth. In fact, existing Directives on such matters as the formation of European Works Councils and recently proposed EU changes on the posting of workers have greatest impact on large, transnational operations. Europe needs a level playing field for employment with a core set of common employee rights balanced by an equal range of obligations by employees in relation to their employer. Such an equitable framework has not emerged over the many decades that the EU has been in existence and this new initiative could help to rectify the many injustices in the legal framework.”