Marriage campaign prompts EU chiefs to review petitions

The European Commission is calling for a review of a scheme that allows the public to suggest new laws, after campaigners used the system to appeal for EU law to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

At a meeting last month the Commission agreed to register a European Citizens’ Initiative known as ‘Mum, Dad & Kids’, launched by academics, lawyers and Christian groups.

But minutes from last month’s Commission meeting reveal that members “regretted” that citizens’ initiatives tended to involve “highly controversial and emotionally charged issues of greater interest to minorities than to the vast majority of EU citizens”.

Petition

If the petition reaches one million signatures from seven member states within a year, the Commission must consider the proposal and either take action or give reasons for not doing so.

Members at the Commission meeting called for a debate on how to “rectify this situation”.

Paul Moynan, Director of Care for Europe who helped launch the ‘Mum, Dad & Kids’ petition, said in response: “It is regrettable and undemocratic that the Commission seems to begrudge any initiative that does not fit their political agenda”.

Fragmentation

According to the Commission meeting minutes Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is in favour of having a discussion on reviewing the petition system in a Commission seminar early this year.

The ‘Mum, Dad & Kids’ initiative calls for EU-wide definitions of marriage as the “union between a man and a woman”, and family as “based on marriage and/or descent”.

It seeks to counter the “increasing fragmentation” of the two concepts.

Significant

The definitions are significant for cross-border EU law on issues such as access to benefits and human rights.

Same-sex marriage is currently legally recognised in eight out of 28 EU member states.

The petition is set to be opened by the end of January.

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