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News of an exciting opportunity in EU participatory democracy

By the time you read this, I will have voted (if the House divides) to "take note" of European Union Document No. 8399/10 and Addendum relating to the draft European Citizen's Initiative Regulation.

Still with me? It's thrilling stuff.

If you find yourself able to garner a million "statements of support" from a minimum number of EU citizens (eligible to vote in elections to the European Parliament) in each of at least a third of EU member states, then you may "invite the Commission to bring forward certain legislative proposals". Proposals will not be acceptable if they are abusive, frivolous or "manifestly against the values" of the EU.

In order to ensure the acceptability of proposals, you'll need to register the initiative with the Commission before collecting statements of support. Once you have 300,000 statements of support, you should apply to the Commission for a decision on the admissibility of the initiative.

Within two months of that request, the Commission should notify you of its decision. The Commission will allow the proposal if it concerns a matter about which the EU could adopt a legal act for the purpose of implementing the Treaties and about which the Treaties give the Comission power to make a proposal.

Once you have a million statements of support, you should submit them to a Member State for verification and certification. Verification and Certification should be completed within three months.

Within four months of your sending the certificates to the Commission, it will publish the initiative and set out its conclusions on the initiative and the action (if any) it intends to take.

Member States will be required to ensure that organisers of initiatives are liable under criminal and civil law for infringements of the Regulation.

Frankly, I can't wait. Surely there must be a million people in at least a third of Member States who would like to make certain invitations to the European Commission? To burn the records, smash the computers, sell the buildings and fire every last one of them, just to pluck an example from the air.

But wait: that would be manifestly against the values of the EU. And probably frivolous. I hope the mere suggestion isn't criminal...

Why do we put up with this nonsense? We are being taxed to pay people to write this drivel - 108 pages of it in the pack before me - to assess it, report on it, advise the Minister on it and so on and so forth. Certainly the measure gives European Citizens a voice in theory, but it's hardly likely to bend the Commission to the people's will is it? Have we forgotten the Irish pantomime so soon? (No, not the most recent one where the EU forced them to take a bailout, arguably to recapitalise the ECB; the one over the Lisbon Treaty.)

I am reminded again of Reagan's '64 speech, A Time for Choosing (PDF, video):

[T]his idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

Pertinently, Reagan said of his opponents:

For example, they have voices that say, "The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." 

And so it seems as, increasingly, the EU develops its powers of economic governance and becomes a transfer union.

What we need in our relations with the people of Europe, and the world, is peace and unhampered trade. We don't require the opportunity to grovel in humble supplication before the philosopher kings of the Commission.

Meanwhile, as I conclude, the House has adjourned without dividing over this garbage. I wonder if a fellow traveller objected...


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