(CN) – Siding with its magistrate and its lower court, the EU’s highest court ruled Thursday that the European Commission was right to reject a citizens’ initiative calling for a ban on abortion, stem cell research and the destruction of human embryos.
Proponents of the citizens’ initiative One of Us first registered with the European Commission in 2012. EU law allows citizens to bring proposed legislation before the commission if they collect at least 1 million signatures.
The group sued after the commission said it would take no action on the petition, but the General Court of the European Union tossed the case after finding the commission did not commit any error in rejecting the One of Us petition.
On appeal to the European Court of Justice, the group argued the lower court misinterpreted the law governing the citizens’ initiative process and mischaracterized the purpose of their petition. But this past July, a magistrate for the EU high court found the law doesn’t require the commission to adopt every citizens’ initiative that successfully garners a million signatures since that would give a vocal faction of citizens more power and more weight than the democratically elected European Parliament.
The EU high court agreed Thursday, rejecting the group’s argument that the findings by the lower court and magistrate make the citizens’ initiative process pointless.
“The particular added value of the ECI mechanism resides not in certainty of outcome, but in the possibilities and opportunities that it creates for union citizens to initiate debate on policy within the EU institutions without having to wait for the commencement of a legislative procedure,” the Luxembourg-based court wrote in a 11-page ruling.
The high court also rejected arguments that the commission should not have relied on a World Health Organization publication which noted EU funding of reproductive health services including abortion contributes to improved health for women. The commission’s consideration of the article and the statistics it contained was not erroneous, the court found.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.