EU Court Rejects ‘Cultural Regions’ Bid by Citizens

     (CN) — The European General Court on Tuesday quashed a bid to get the EU to recognize geographic areas with large numbers of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities in order to receive special funding and other advantages.
     Under EU law, citizens may ask the European Commission to bring legislation to EU lawmakers when they’ve collected no less than a million signatures from at least a quarter of the 28 member states.
     Before they can begin collecting signatures, however, organizers must register their citizens’ initiative with the commission which decides whether the proposed legislation is something that even falls within the commission’s purview to bring to lawmakers.
     In 2013, seven citizens submitted a proposed citizens’ initiative to the commission titled “Cohesion Policy for the Equality of Regions and Sustainability of Regional Cultures.” The initiative would have asked the EU to recognize geographic areas with large numbers of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious minorities, with the aim of getting funding from the EU to ensure the national minority regions have the same economic advantages as regions with fewer minorities.
     The commission refused to register the initiative for signature-gathering, finding that what was proposed fell well outside of what it can bring to EU lawmakers. Two of the organizers sued, asking the European General Court to annul the commission’s findings and allow the signature-gathering to begin.
     On Tuesday, the lower court ruled that what the organizers proposed would run afoul of the EU’s cohesion policy and member states’ sovereignty to handle their own political, administrative and institutional situations.
     Furthermore, the Luxembourg-based court found that the cohesion policy exists to promote the harmonious development of the European Union as an entity rather than give preferential treatment to regions with ethnic or religious minorities.
     The organizers did not show that the regions they propose are at a disadvantage compared to the surrounding regions either, leading the EU’s lower court to rule that the initiative is not a suitable vehicle for protecting diversity.
     The court’s ruling was not made available in English by press time.

%d bloggers like this: