EU Court Tosses Man’s Plan to Erase Greek Debt

     (CN) – A citizens’ initiative to force EU lawmakers to cancel a member state’s “onerous debt” – like Greece currently faces – isn’t constitutional and can’t be put to voters, the European General Court ruled Wednesday.
     Under EU law, citizens can advance initiatives for lawmakers to consider after gathering at least 1 million signatures from no less than a quarter of the member states in the union after first registering the petition with the European Commission.
     The commission can refuse to register any petition if the subject matter involved falls outside its own powers under EU law.
     Greek national Alexios Anagnostakis asked the commission to register his “A Europe of Solidarity” initiative in July 2012. His proposal would amend EU law to add “the principle of the ‘state of necessity,’ whereby when the financial and political existence of a state is in danger because of the serving of the abhorrent debt the refusal of its payment is necessary and justifiable.”
     But the commission refused to register Anagnostakis’ petition for signature-gathering, finding his proposed law fell well outside the framework of its powers as the EU’s administrative and regulatory arm. Anagnostakis sued, asking the European General Court to order the commission to register his petition for circulation.
     On Wednesday, the EU lower court dismissed the man’s lawsuit and found that “the commission is not empowered to propose to the EU legislature to enshrine the principle that it should be possible to cancel the onerous public debt of countries in a state of necessity.”
     The Luxembourg-based court noted that while the EU constitution allows lawmakers to offer help to struggling member states, it contains no reference to a “state of necessity” that would allow them – require them – to erase public debt.
     Furthermore, Anagnostakis’ sweeping vision would also have a member state’s – presumably Greece’s in this case – debts to other public or private legal or natural persons erased as well, another point that would run afoul of the EU constitution according to the court.
     And unilaterally canceling a member state’s debt doesn’t mesh with EU economic policy and budgetary discipline goals, the court said in its opinion, which was not made available in English.
     Anagnostakis has two months to lodge an appeal with the European Court of Justice.

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