Last week the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water is a human right’ succeeded in gathering one million signatures from at least seven EU Member States in proportion to their size of population. This qualifies ‘Water is a human right’ as the first European Citizens’ Initiative ever to be submitted to the European Commission. On the occasion of „Europe Day” on Thursday, 9 May 2013 and during times of the EU’s biggest crises, Democracy International calls upon the European Commission to take seriously the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) „Water is a Human Right”, to adopt its proposals, and to make ECI more citizen-friendly as many stakeholders demanded after more than a year of practical experience.
For the first time in history we can celebrate on Europe Day ahuge success for a Citizens Initiative in Europe –thus making the EU more responsive and citizen-oriented. I congratulate the organizers as well as over one million European citizens for their activity and success, says Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International.
After being submitted to the European Commission the ECI ‘Water is a human right’ will enter its decisive phase. The reaction by the EU’s executive body will prove whether EU Commissioners and other EU leaders are willing to act in the interest of their citizens. We will hear many words that the EU must be a Europe of the citizens, at Europe Day. Now is the time to prove that and to let deeds follow, Gerald Häfner adds.
The European Citizens’ Initiative is the first transnational tool of direct democracy. It requires one million signatures from at least seven million states in proportion to their size of population in order to be handed over to the European Commission. In practice since first April 2012, out of 14 ongoing ECIs, the ECI “Water is a Human Right” is the first ECI in the history of the EU that meets these thresholds. The ECI aims at maintaining water as a public good, instead of being subject to the European Union’s ‘internal market rules’.
Especially in the time of a big European crisis, the EU should listen more to their citizens. We will solve this crisis only with and never against our citizens. Therefore it is high time to make the European Union more participative and interactive. The ECI is the first but not the only instrument for a more democratic and citizen-friendly European Union. It must be improved and extended and turned into a legally-binding instrument”, states Gerald Häfner, on behalf of Democracy International, a non-governmental organisation, which is also known as “the global coalition for direct democracy.