Netherlands must support European Citizens' Initiative proposal

11 September 2006

Netherlands must support European Citizens' Initiative proposal

The Dutch government should give firm support to the proposal to introduce a European Citizens Initiative, by means of which members of the public who are able to collect a petition bearing one million signatures can put an issue on the EU's political agenda, argued SP Member of Parliament and European affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel during this morning's parliamentary and governmental debate on the country's role in Europe. “People should have more opportunities to contribute to the debate over Europe," he said. "If not, it will continue to seem remote from their lives.”

Harry van Bommel“When it came to the introduction of the euro, or EU enlargement, the public never had any opportunity to participate in the debate," Mr van Bommel said. "When we at last had the chance to express our views in the referendum over the European Constitution, the EU's present direction was firmly rejected. If the EU's political leaders want public support, then they will have to give people the chance to exercise some influence on this Europe. Citizens who are concerned and involved form the heart of a vibrant society. A European Citizens' Initiative could strengthen such involvement.”

The Citizens' Initiative, Van Bommel argues, was one of the few positive elements of the European Constitution thrown out last year by Dutch and French voters.

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