Today, the European Commission decided to register two European Citizens’ Initiatives, entitled ‘Ban on conversion practices in the European Union’ and ‘European Citizens’ Initiative in Defence of Agriculture and Rural Economy in Europe’.
The organisers of the ‘Ban on conversion practices in the European Union’ initiative call for a ban on interventions aimed at changing, repressing or suppressing the sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression of LGBTIQ+ citizens. In particular, the organisers call on the Commission to propose a directive adding conversion practices to the list of EU crimes or amend the proposed directive on equality to include a ban on conversion practices. The organisers also call for amendments to Directive 2012/29/EU on victims’ rights to establish minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of conversion practices.
The ‘European Citizens’ Initiative in Defence of Agriculture and Rural Economy in Europe’ calls for the protection of European agriculture and rural economy through a regulatory framework based on several elements including priority use of agricultural land for food production, guaranteeing food sovereignty and addressing food chain issues and high prices. The organisers also call for the establishment of a European Hydrological Plan to guarantee water supply and distribution throughout the EU, and an EU Agency for Agriculture and Rural Economy to ensure the protection of agriculture and rural economy in EU decision-making processes.
The decision to register an initiative is based on a legal analysis of its admissibility under the ECI Regulation. It does not prejudge the legal and political conclusions of the Commission on these initiatives and the action it would take, if any, in case any of these initiatives obtains the necessary support of at least 1 million European citizens.
As both European Citizens’ Initiatives fulfil the formal conditions established in the relevant legislation, the Commission considers that they are legally admissible. The Commission has not analysed the substance of the proposals at this stage.
Following today’s registration, the organisers have six months to open the signature collection. If a European Citizens’ Initiative receives one million statements of support within one year from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react. The Commission will have to decide whether to take action in response to the request or not, and will be required to explain its reasoning.
The European Citizens’ Initiative was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens. It was officially launched in April 2012. Once formally registered, a European Citizens’ Initiative allows one million citizens from at least seven EU Member States to invite the European Commission to propose legal acts in areas where it has the power to act. The conditions for admissibility are: (1) the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, (2) it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and (3) it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.
Since the beginning of the European Citizens’ Initiative, the Commission has registered 109 initiatives.