“Sign it Europe, a second chance for minority rights”

Op-ed by Krisztina Sándor, Vice-President of Coppieters Foundation

News / 31.1.21

Krisztina Sándor, Vice-President of Coppieters Foundation and human and minority rights advocate call for international support to the European Citizens Initiative SIGN IT EUROPE collecting signatures until 7 February 2021.

The European Citizen’s initiative is currently the only tool that we have to propose legislation at a European level.  Triggering such a mechanism requires a gigantic amount of effort and energy. The Minority SafePack Initiative, a citizen’s initiative to protect and enhance minority rights in Europe, was no exception. More than 8 years of meetings, briefings, campaigns that mobilized hundreds of thousands across Europe, more than 1 million supporters, and backing from a vast majority of members of the European Parliament were – rather regrettably – neglected by the European Commission in one simple sentence: “the Commission considers that no additional legal act is necessary.”

The unsuccessful outcome of the process is disheartening for two significant reasons. Firstly, the Minority SafePack initiative is the fifth initiative in a row to be rejected by the Commission. This raise concerns over the effectiveness of the only direct participatory democracy instrument we Europeans have. It places European institutions further away from the citizens they represent. The lack of success that Citizen’s Initiatives have had so far undermines the democratic process they seek to represent.

Secondly, the EU is failing to serve and protect more than 50 million Europeans belonging to cultural, national, and linguistic minorities in Europe by rejecting this initiative.

Minority rights are human rights, and by electing to abandon them the European Commission drifts away from the values of diversity so much at the heart of the European project.

We are now faced with an interesting dilemma. Do we give up, do we lower our arms and move on? Or do we keep championing the rights of minorities and the European project?

We are now faced with an interesting dilemma. Do we give up, abandon our plans, and move on? Or do we keep championing the rights of minorities and the European project?

Can the commission reject yet another Citizens Initiative that puts collective and minority rights at the forefront of European politics?

Sign It Europe, the European Citizens Initiative to bring Europe closer to their citizens and give every culture an equal chance to thrive wants to put this to test. This initiative aims to secure dedicated EU financial support for territories with national minorities.

It is currently at its final stage, overcoming the enormous amount of trouble and disruption due to COVID-19 prevention measures that made collecting signatures and campaigning a grueling task. Against all odds, the initiative, spearheaded by the Szekler National Council, has already reached the 1 million signatures mark and on 31st January 2021 the initiative reached the minimum threshold in the 7th EU member states required. This means that the initiative is valid, but will continue collecting the signatures till the deadline.

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