Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Strengthening the Idea of "By Citizens, for Citizens" in the Context of the European Citizens' Initiative - Brief Analysis of Initiatives -

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Strengthening the Idea of "By Citizens, for Citizens" in the Context of the European Citizens' Initiative - Brief Analysis of Initiatives -

Article excerpt

I. General remarks

For a long time, the "political voice" of the European citizens was not taken into consideration for various reasons (the society, the politicians, the economic and political situation etc.) which determined a serious disconnection between the citizens and the decision-making authorities at the level of the European Communities1. Therefore, the general perception was that a democratic deficit was "implemented" within the Communities and the citizens were not in the possession of the theoretical and practical tools to "fight" against this deficit.

In order to change this unjust situation and to give the opportunity for the European citizens to express themselves one way or another, starting with 1970s and after a debate attended by the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the European Communities concerning the development of the special rights given to the Europeans, debate which took place in 1974 in Paris2, the European Commission drafted in 1975 a proposal aiming at a future development of the European Community Law from the political point of view, proposal considered to be too ambitious to be put in practice in a short time, bearing in mind that its primary aim was to make a "[cjomplete assimilation with nationals as regards political rights [which was] desirable in the long term from the point of view of a [democratic] European [Community]3".

This proposal was only a step in a long process to recognise officially the "power" of the European citizens, and their effective right to participate actively in the political life of the European Communities, as an intrinsic part of it, where the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament had the active role as "main institutions involved in the legislative process, with separate attributions"4.

In spite of some initiatives and the second European legislation drafted and enacted over time by the European institutions, among which it is worth mentioning "Towards a Europe for Citizens"5 (an important starting point in this political direction); the 1976 Decision and Act concerning the election of the representatives of the former Assembly6 by direct universal suffrage by the citizens7 (where the democratic participation of the citizens in the political life of the Communities appeared) and "The road to European citizenship", a proposal drafted by the Spanish government in 1990 and supported later by the European institutions during the elaboration of the Maastricht Treaty8, "no consensus was reached [among the European leaders until] the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht"9. As it can be seen, the important improvement made by the 1976 documents was not accompanied until the Treaty of Maastricht by a consistent European legislation in the field of political 2 Oana - Märiuca Petrescu, The Political Citizenship in the Context of the Lisbon Treaty, Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2013, p.44.

3 Jo Shaw, E.U. Citizenship and political rights in an evolving European Union, Fordham Law Review, Volume 75, Issue 5, 2007, p.2549.

4 Oana - Mariuca Petrescu, The Political Citizenship in the Context of the Lisbon Treaty, p.46.

5 This report was elaborated by Leonard Clemence "Leo" Tindemans, former prime minister of Belgium between 25 April 1974 and 20 October 1978, website: http://aei.pitt.edU/942/1/political tindemans report.pdf.

6 Currently, the European Parliament.

7 These documents were signed in Brussels on 20 September 1976 and entered into force on 1 July 1978 after ratification by all the Member States; Stanislas Adam, Electoral rights under the review of the European Court of justice: judicial trends and constitutional weaknesses, CYELP 3, 2007, p.418.

8 Damian Chalmers, Gareth Davies, Giorgio Monti, European Union Law: Cases and Materials, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.444.

9 Stanislas Adam, Electoral rights under the review of the European Court of justice: judicial trends and constitutional weaknesses, p. …

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