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Two European citizens’ initiatives back fight for rule of law and climate

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen was clear enough in front of the European Parliament when she stated the new Commission’s priorities: rule of law and climate change are top of the agenda. That’s good news for Europeans. 

Still, in a Europe where countries build their economies on a carbon-based industry, and where some breach the fundamental rights and freedoms of their citizens by violating the rule of law, good news is not enough. 

Some decisions in Europe are taken by the European Council and have to be unanimous. It is the case of decisions to impose sanctions on EU countries who breach EU values. So it is not hard to understand how unlikely it would be for EU countries to agree on something like this. There would certainly be at least one country who would veto that decision.

What can be done?

Citizens in Europe can help the Commission concretely and positively pursue Von der Leyen’s priorities. They can do that not just by protesting against those violations, but by putting forward challenging political proposals through the democratic tools Europe allows.

In 2019, Eumans, a new, nonviolent movement of European citizens acting through direct democracy, with activists from around Europe – worked on two European citizens’ initiatives. 

One, Act for Our Rights, is aimed at enforcing respect for the rule of law in all EU countries. The other, Stop Global Warming, is intended to address climate change at the European level by introducing carbon pricing and using revenues to reduce the cost of the ecological transition on Europe’s low-income workers.

Act for Our Rights (‘Respect for the rule of law within the European Union’)

Act for Our Rights proposes introducing a permanent, objective monitoring system to verify the application of the European Union’s values by all the EU countries.

A transparent procedure, coupled with objective criteria, may have a beneficial impact on building mutual trust among EU countries, and between citizens and European institutions. In this way, national governments would be held accountable for enforcing the rule of law in their countries.

Indeed, Act for Our Rights means strengthening the provisions of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning potential breaches of EU values. It can also help enforce European laws on judicial cooperation in criminal matters (e.g. the European Arrest Warrant).

Stop Global Warming (‘A price for carbon to fight climate change’)

Stop Global Warming proposes introducing a minimum price on carbon emissions – increasing from EUR 50 per tonne in 2020 up to EUR 100 per tonne by 2025 – and abolishing the existing system of free allowances to EU polluters. This initiative proposes introducing a border adjustment mechanism on non-EU imports, to counterbalance the lower pricing on carbon emissions entering the EU.

Revenues from this new European carbon pricing system would be allocated according to European policies supporting energy saving, encouraging renewable sources, and reducing taxation on lower incomes – in a win-win perspective where both citizens and European economies can finally gain from an environment-friendly measure.

Both initiatives were  registered with the European Commission earlier in the year. Signature collection started last September.

Here’s a video encouraging citizens to sign.

You can find more and sign on the initiatives’ official websites:

Act for our Rights

Stop Global Warming

Contributor: Simona Bonfante

Contributor’s background:  Simona Bonfante is an Italian journalist and a Eumans activist. She is Policy Adviser for Civic Participation at the Municipality of Milan

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