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European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)

One million citizens demand an end to toxic pesticides in Europe

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The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) entitled 'Save Bees and Farmers' has gathered over 1 million signatures across the EU. The initiative calls for a phase-out of synthetic pesticides in the EU, for measures to restore biodiversity, and for support for farmers to transition to sustainable agriculture. These are all central demands of the European Greens, who have strongly supported this initiative since it was launched. The ECI stems from a coalition of over 140 NGOs as well as farmer and beekeeper associations, succeeding a 2017 ECI “Stop Glyphosate” that proved instrumental for shedding light on dangerous pesticide use in Europe and putting in motion policy reform.

Thomas Waitz, co-chair of the European Green Party and MEP said: “In recent years, scientists have warned us about the extent to which insects and in particular pollinators are threatened. Several bee species face extinction in Europe, which would have devastating effects on plants and agriculture that depend on pollinators, as well as the animals that feed on them. This mass extinction is a direct result of the widespread use of synthetic pesticides.

“The EU can and must take the political action required to restore biodiversity and safeguard agriculture by phasing out synthetic pesticides.”

Evelyne Huytebroeck, co-chair of the European Green Party said: “Industrial agriculture is destroying biodiversity, causing erosion of our soils and is forcing farmers to stop farming as they can not stand the unfair competition of agro-industrial multinationals. On top of that, the effects of pesticides on the health of citizens are devastating and represent a big burden to our healthcare systems and societies.

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“The European Union, its member states and citizens play a crucial role in supporting the transformation toward organic agriculture - for a thriving biodiversity, fertile soils, quality food and good jobs with a decent income for Europe’s farmers.”

If validated by the European Commission, the Commission and the Parliament will have to respond to the demands of the citizens. A certain number of signatures are usually invalidated, and we are impatiently waiting for a confirmation of this historical achievement.

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European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)

Coalition seeks EU ban on fossil fuel advertising

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An effort to outlaw greenwashing by fossil fuel companies across the European Union launched today, with more than 20 organizations representing millions of Europeans launching a European Citizens’ Initiative to “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”.

The campaign seeks to cement such a ban into European Union legislation [1]. Achieving this, according to the Europe Beyond Coal coalition, would cut off a vital channel that coal barons and other fossil companies use to promote their inadequate efforts on climate action, while a vast majority of their investments still go into fossil fuels.

“Finland’s Fortum pretends it’s green despite opening a new coal plant in Germany last year; RWE shouts about its renewable energy business while destroying German villages like Lützerath to mine coal it cannot burn; and Poland’s state-owned PGE is illegally expanding coal mining in Turów, while targeting Brussels politicians with ads showing fake citizens promoting coal,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director.

“While coal will be gone in Europe by 2030, these companies are more than willing to waste huge sums of money trying to stop the unstoppable, rather than plan for it and finance a fair energy transition. It is communities, workers and all of us everyday people that end up paying the price for their propaganda.”

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Over 60 percent of advertisements from fossil fuel companies are ‘greenwashing’ according to new research [2], that could for instance be used to polish their public profiles, deny their responsibility for the climate crisis, promote false solutions like coal to gas replacements, and delay the phase-out of their fossil businesses.

“The companies most responsible for climate breakdown buy ads and sponsorship to present themselves as the solution to the crisis they created, and to influence politicians,” said Silvia Pastorelli, Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner. “Like the tobacco industry, fossil fuel polluters first denied the science and then tried to delay action. A ban on their advertising is a logical step to bring public debate and policy in line with science.”

More information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”, is available here.

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  1. A European Citizens’ Initiative (or ECI) is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission, and pre-approved by them. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider incorporating the demand into European law.
  2. Bans on fossil fuel advertising do have precedent in the EU. In December 2020, the City of Amsterdam banned fossil fuel advertisements from its metro and the city centre. The French ‘climate and resilience’ bill, published in 2021, also includes some first steps towards a ban of fossil fuel advertisement. On 18 October, Stockholm city council will debate a proposed ban on fossil fuel advertising in the city.
  3. Participating organisations to this ECI include: ActionAid, Adfree Cities, Air Clim, Avaaz, Badvertising, BoMiasto.pl, Ecologistas en Acción, Europe Beyond Coal, FOCSIV, Food and Water Action Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Fundación Renovables, Global Witness, Greenpeace, New Weather Institute Sweden, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, Reclame Fossielvrij, Social Tipping Point Coalitie, Stop Funding Heat, Transport & Environment, and Zero.
  4. Research by environmental news outlet DeSmog  on behalf of Greenpeace Netherlands found that out of over 3,000 Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal, from December 2019 to April 2021, only 16 percent were explicitly for fossil fuel products, despite the fact that this is the majority business of all six companies.
  5. This spring, PGE launched a PR campaign in Brussels, calling for a “Green Deal, not a Grim Deal,” featuring a stock photo of a child.
  6. One local resident spoke out about the faked campaign, and the real impact of Turow on his community.
  7. Less than a week after Germany's 'climate election', people from the village of Lützerath in Western Germany staged a sit-in to defend their homes from destruction by coal company RWE last Friday (1 October). The expansion of the mine would cause Germany to fail on its Paris Agreement commitments. Greta Thunberg and German climate activist Luisa Neubauer visited Lützerath the day before the election, ramming a sign into the ground in front of the village that read: "Defend Lützerath, defend 1.5". Images here.
  8. Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner.

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European Citizens' Initiative

European Citizens' Initiative: Commission decides to register new citizens' initiative

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The European Commission has decided to register a European Citizens' Initiative entitled ‘Ensuring Common Commercial Policy conformity with EU Treaties and compliance with international law'.

The organizers of the initiative call on the Commission to "propose legal acts based on the Common Commercial Policy to prevent EU legal entities from both importing products originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories and exporting to such territories, in order to preserve the integrity of the internal market and to not aid or assist the maintenance of such unlawful situations".

The Commission considers that this European Citizens' Initiative is legally admissible, as it meets the necessary registration conditions. It is important to highlight, that the initiative invites the Commission to submit a proposal for a legal act under the Common Commercial Policy, which is general in nature and does not target a specific country or territory. The Commission has not analyzed the substance of the initiative at this stage.

With today's decision, the Commission is reassessing the proposed initiative following additional information received from the organisers and a ruling of the General Court on a previous Commission decision.

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Next steps

Following today's registration, the organisers can start the process of collecting signatures. If a European Citizens' Initiative receives one million statements of support within one year from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react. The Commission could decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.

Background

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The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens. It was officially launched in April 2012.

The conditions for admissibility are: (1) the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission's powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, (2) it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and (3) it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.

Since the beginning of the European Citizens' Initiative, the Commission has received 107 requests to launch one, 83 of which were in fields where the Commission has the power to propose legislation and thus qualified to be registered.

More information

‘Ensuring Common Commercial Policy conformity with EU Treaties and compliance with international law'

European Citizens' Initiative – website

European Citizens' Initiatives currently collecting signatures

European Citizens' Initiative Forum

#EUTakeTheInitiative campaign

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European Citizens' Initiative: Commission decides to register ‘ReturnthePlastics' initiative on plastic bottle recycling

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Today (13 August), the Commission decided to register a European Citizens' Initiative entitled ‘ReturnthePlastics: A Citizen's Initiative to implement an EU-wide deposit-system to recycle plastic bottles'.

The organizers of the initiative call on the Commission to present a proposal to:

  • Implement an EU-wide deposit-system to recycle plastic bottles;
  • incentivize all EU member states that supermarkets (chains) which are selling plastic bottles install reverse vending machines for recycling the plastic bottles after being purchased and used by the consumer, and;
  • make the plastic bottle producing companies pay plastic taxes for the recycling and deposit-system of the plastic bottles (under the principle that the polluter should pay).

The Commission considers that this initiative is legally admissible because it meets the necessary conditions. At this stage, the Commission has not analyzed the substance of the initiative.

Next Steps

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Following today's registration, the organizers can start collecting signatures. If a European Citizens' Initiative receives 1 million statements of support within 1 year from at least seven different member states, the Commission will have to react. The Commission could decide either to take the request forward or not, and will be required to explain its reasoning.

Background

The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens. It was officially launched in April 2012.

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The conditions for admissibility are: (1) the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission's powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, (2) it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious, and (3) it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.

So far, the Commission has received 107 requests to launch a European Citizens' Initiative, 82 of which were admissible and thus qualified to be registered.

More information

‘ReturnthePlastics: A Citizen's Initiative to implement an EU-wide deposit-system to recycle plastic bottles'

ECIs currently collecting signatures

European Citizens' Initiative Forum

#EUTakeTheInitiative campaign

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