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Citizens’ enquiries on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop extremism’

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Citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament (or to the institution’s public portal) expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (AskEP) within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) looks into these issues and replies to the messages, which may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.

The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages calling on the Parliament to reject, if submitted for a vote, an ‘anti-extremism directive’. Correspondents argue that (what appears to be) a published draft of a directive, based on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop extremism’, should itself be regarded as an extremist aspiration, as it would seek to eliminate certain pre-conditions of democracy, in particular freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Citizens first began to write to the President on this subject in October 2019. In fact the ‘draft act’ available on the European Commission website is not an official EU proposal for a directive, but a document drafted by the ‘Stop extremism’ European Citizens’ Initiative itself. European Citizens’ Initiatives are a way to ensure certain topics feature on the EU agenda. Once an initiative has collected one million signatures, the European Commission will consider the issue raised, although it is not obliged to follow the initiative.

Please find below the main points of the reply sent to citizens who took the time to write to the President of the European Parliament on this matter (in English, German and Italian).

Main points made in the reply in English

As regards your reference to the European Citizens’ Initiative Stop Extremism, we would like to draw your attention to the relevant European Commission website. There you will find information about the progress the initiative has made.

We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the ‘draft act’ (‘Rechtsaktentwurf’) mentioned on the website referred to by the European Parliament can in no way be regarded as an official European Commission proposal for a directive.

In overall terms, a citizens’ initiative puts a topic on the political agenda in a way that commits the Commission to address citizens’ concerns properly, although the Commission is not obliged to follow the initiative. If it decides not to act, however, it will give clear reasons.

Should the Commission decide to adopt a legislative proposal on a citizens’ initiative, that proposal will be dealt with under the ordinary legislative procedure and must therefore be considered and, if appropriate, adopted by the co-legislators (in general by the European Parliament and the Council; in some cases only by the Council).

The relevant deliberations and decisions in the parliamentary procedure are to be held by the Members of the European Parliament in the exercise of their independent mandate (Rule 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament).

Main points made in the reply in German

Insoweit Sie sich auf die Europäische Bürgerinitiative Stop Extremism beziehen, möchten wir Sie auf die einschlägige Website der Europäischen Kommission aufmerksam machen. Dort finden Sie Informationen zum aktuellen Bearbeitungsstand dieser Bürgerinitiative.

Ergänzend weisen wir darauf hin, dass es sich bei dem auf der erwähnten Website angeführten „Rechtsaktentwurf“ keineswegs um einen dem Europäischen Parlament vorliegenden offiziellen Richtlinienvorschlag der Europäischen Kommission handelt.

Insgesamt ist festzuhalten, dass mit einer Bürgerinitiative ein Thema auf die politische Tagesordnung gebracht wird, das die Kommission dazu verpflichtet, sich ernsthaft mit den Anliegen der Bürgerinnen und Bürger auseinanderzusetzen, aber sie ist nicht dazu verpflichtet, der Initiative Folge zu leisten. Allerdings wird die Kommission in einem solchen Fall ihre Gründe für die Ablehnung klar und eindeutig darlegen.

Sollte die Kommission allerdings beschließen, auf eine Bürgerinitiative hin einen Vorschlag für eine Rechtsvorschrift anzunehmen, so durchläuft dieser das übliche Gesetzgebungsverfahren und muss daher von den gesetzgebenden Organen (im Allgemeinen dem Europäischen Parlament und dem Rat oder in einigen Fällen nur vom Rat) geprüft und gegebenenfalls angenommen werden.

Die entsprechenden Beratungen und Beschlussfassungen im parlamentarischen Verfahren sind von den Mitgliedern des Europäischen Parlaments im Rahmen ihres freien Mandates (Artikel 2 der Geschäftsordnung des Europäischen Parlaments) durchzuführen.

Main points made in the reply in Italian

Per quanto riguarda l’iniziativa dei cittadini europei Stop Extremism, richiamiamo la vostra attenzione sul pertinente sito web della Commissione europea. Vi troverete non solo informazioni sullo stato attuale di tale iniziativa, ma anche sulle prossime fasi procedurali previste.

A titolo integrativo, vi facciamo presente che il “progetto di atto giuridico” citato nella pagina web menzionata non costituisce assolutamente una proposta ufficiale di direttiva della Commissione europea presentata al Parlamento europeo.

In generale va chiarito che un’iniziativa dei cittadini inserisce nell’agenda politica un tema che impegna la Commissione ad occuparsi seriamente dell’interesse delle cittadine e dei cittadini, senza obbligarla per questo a dar seguito all’iniziativa. In questo caso, comunque, la Commissione deve illustrare in termini chiari e univoci i motivi del rifiuto.

Qualora la Commissione dovesse invece decidere di adottare un progetto di atto giuridico sulla base di un’iniziativa dei cittadini, esso è sottoposto alla procedura legislativa usuale e deve quindi essere esaminato ed eventualmente adottato dagli organi legislativi (in generale il Parlamento europeo e il Consiglio o in alcuni casi solo il Consiglio).

Le pertinenti deliberazioni e decisioni nel quadro della procedura parlamentare dovranno essere adottate dai deputati al Parlamento europeo nell’esercizio del loro libero mandato (articolo 2 del Regolamento del Parlamento europeo).

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.

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