Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Article

European Minorities Win a Battle in Luxembourg the Judgment of the General Court in the Case Minority SafePack European Citizens’ Initiative

Authors Balázs Tárnok
Author's information

365263 Balázs Tárnok
PhD researcher at Pázmány Péter Catholic University Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      The Lisbon Treaty introduced the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a brand new tool of transnational participatory democracy aiming to bring Europe closer to the people. Five years after the first ECI was lodged, we have yet to see an ECI that would pass the full procedure and end up as a proposal for a legal act. The European Commission (hereinafter: Commission) refused to register almost one third of the initiatives lodged on the basis that they fall manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act. The organizers of the refused Minority SafePack ECI challenged the Commission’s decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The General Court approved the claims of the organizers of an ECI for the first time in this case. The General Court’s findings with regard to the Commission’s duty to give proper reasoning with respect to the refusal of an ECI may be a small but important step in achieving the goals of the ECI.
      In July 2013 the Citizens Committee of the ‘Minority SafePack – one million signatures for diversity in Europe’ European Citizens’ Initiative (MSPI) submitted its proposal to the European Commission. The aim of the proposal was to call upon the EU to improve the protection of persons belonging to national and linguistic minorities and strengthen cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union. The European Commission refused to register the initiative by its Decision C(2013) 5969 final of September 13, 2013 (hereinafter: the contested decision) on the grounds that it manifestly fell outside the powers of the Commission to submit a proposal for the adoption of a legal act of the European Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties of the European Union (hereinafter: Treaties). As a result, the organizers could not even start collecting signatures for the MSPI. In November 2013, the decision of the Commission was brought before the General Court. The General Court with its judgment on February 3, 2017 approved the claims of the applicants and annulled the contested decision (hereinafter: Judgement). This was the first time the claims of the organizers of an ECI were approved by the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to the rejection of the Commission’s decision.

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