European pro-lifers are outraged at what they consider the anti-democratic decision by the powerful European Commission to ignore a pro-life petition signed by nearly two million people from more than twenty EU member states.
The petition, called One of Us, asked the European Commission to initiate a legislative debate on embryonic stem cell research that destroys a human embryo.
The petition is part of an official EU program called a European Citizens’ Initiative whereby the European Commission promises to take action if one million citizens from at least seven EU countries sign a petition asking for it.
The petition process was created by the Treaty of Lisbon and is considered a program for direct participatory democracy that allows citizens to initiate a legislative debate; however, it offers no guaranteed outcome.
The European Commission is the most powerful body of the European Institutions, and it alone has the power to initiate legislation in the far-weaker European Parliament.
On the One of Us petition, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said:
We have engaged with this Citizens’ Initiative and given its request all due attention. However, Member States and the European Parliament agreed to continue funding research in this area for a reason. Embryonic stem cells are unique and offer the potential for life-saving treatments, with clinical trials already underway. The Commission will continue to apply the strict ethical rules and restrictions in place for EU-funded research, including that we will not fund the destruction of embryos.
The One of Us campaign is the largest by far of any European Citizens’ Initiative, specifically called for the end of EU financing of any research that necessarily kills a human embryo. The petition, with two million signatures, is the largest in EU history, according to petition organizers.
Organizers of the One of Us Campaign said, “Such veto power is illegitimate and anti-democratic since politically, it is the European Legislature that may give a verdict on the content of the Initiative, and not the Commission; otherwise, the ECI mechanism would be meaningless.”
Writing at Turtle Bay and Beyond, Brussels-based human rights lawyer J.C. von Krempach referred to the “European Commission’s Soviet-style communication through which it informed the public that it was not going to follow up on the EU’s most successful citizens’ initiative, ONE OF US. I have read through the 28-page document, but it really isn’t worth reading, so I don’t recommend it. It simply represents a complete and disastrous failure of a bureaucratic structure to engage with the outside world. A case of intellectual autism, so to say.”
A number of European leaders spoke to Breitbart News.
Sophia Kuby of the Brussels-based European Dignity Watch said, “The Commission, on its last day of its mandate, has illegitimately imposed its own biased political will – to continue funding embryo-destructive research – upon the 2 million European citizens who supported the initiative. By doing this, the Commission reveals itself as disrespectful of a democratic instrument which it itself had established with the Lisbon Treaty.”
Patrick Carr of the Dublin-based Family and Life said, “In a week when many people, including prime ministers and presidents, are asking fundamental questions about the future role and purpose of the EU, this contempt for the citizens is particularly staggering. It does prove that the Citizens’ Initiative is pretty meaningless since there is no power to compel the Commission to do anything.”
Ignacio Arsuago of the Madrid-based HazteOir said, “The European Commission is demonstrating that it is dead afraid of real democracy. It is allergic to the public debate and the voice of European citizens. By ignoring the declared intention of the citizens [it] will further enhance the European citizens’ unease with the European Institutions.”
Maria Hildingsson, Secretary General of the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, said, “This is not a glorious day for democracy in Europe.”
The One of Us committee promises further action, suggesting a lawsuit before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg and expects the new and more conservative European Parliament “will audition the next Commission, allowing it to replace the respect of the Citizens’ Initiative in the heart of debates, and ask the European Institutions to be more ethical and democratic.”