11 November 2014

ECI coalition takes fight to European Court of Justice

Campaign climbing toward 1 million signatures as court case filed

Simon McKeagney, Editor

On Monday the Stop TTIP coalition, consisting of over 300 civil society organisations from across the EU, officially filed a lawsuit against the European Commission for deciding to reject their call for a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) on TTIP and CETA in September.

The ECI, if approved, would have allowed the coalition to call on the Commission to review its policy on the two deals and ensure a hearing took place in the European Parliament. However it was rejected on technical grounds, a move widely criticised as out of touch with the growing public concerns around transparency and citizen involvement in the negotiation process. 

Campaigners have instead continued to collect signatures in what they have dubbed a “self-organised citizens initiative.” At the time of writing, over 870,000 citizens from across Europe have signed the petition, in less than a month.

The ECJ case will be an important fight for the Stop TTIP initiative, which consists of a diverse network of trade unions, social justice campaigns, human rights groups and consumer watchdogs. According to IBTimes UK , Development Movement, one of the coalition members, said that they are ‘confident that they have served up a "meaty" legal case, but that it could be two years before any resolution is reached.’

Michael Efler, a representative of the ECI’s citizens’ committee said: “We are not only appealing for the sake of the Stop TTIP ECI, but also for future European Citizens’ Initiatives. When it comes to the negotiation of international treaties, the European Commission wants to exclude citizens. While they are being negotiated, people are told not to interfere and when final contracts are put on the table, it’s too late. The Commission’s legal position effectively prevents any future ECIs on international agreements.”

US citizens reject ‘fast-track’ of trade deals

Across the Atlantic, a similar movement has gained traction this week, as campaigners delivered 800,000 signatures to Congress asking them not approve “fast-track”, a piece of legislation that would “push these harmful trade agreements through Congress without any meaningful oversight or assurances that the trade pacts would actually benefit workers, families, and the environment” according to Ilana Solomon of the US-based NGO, Sierra Club.

"Fast-track" also known as Trade Promotion Authority, gives the President of the United States the ability to negotiate international trade agreements without taking on amendments by members of Congress. The move could result in the swift approval of deals like TTIP without thorough political debate or input from elected representatives.

Watch: Stop TTIP Coalition delivers case against the Commission to ECJ [Video in German]

Sign the self-organised ECI here.

Sign the "fast-track" petition here (US addresses only)

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