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European Citizens' Initiative

European Citizens' Initiatives: Commission decides to register two

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The European Commission has decided to register two European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs) entitled 'European Civil Servant Exchange Programme' and 'Roof Greening'. The organizers of the European Civil Servant Exchange Programme initiative invite the Commission to launch an exchange and training program between civil servants from the member states of the European Union.

The aim of the program is to offer professional experience to officials in a similar service in another member state for a period of 2 to 12 months. The organizers of the Rof Greening initiative call on the Commission to facilitate the creation of green gardens on company roofs. Thus, unused roofs could contribute to the environment. The Commission considers that the two initiatives are legally admissible since they meet the required conditions and has therefore decided to register them. The Commission has not analyzed the content of the initiatives at this stage.

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EU

European Citizens' Initiative: Commission decides to register an initiative for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices

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On 7 January, the European Commission decided to register a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) entitled ‘Civil society initiative for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices'. The organizers of the ECI urge the Commission to propose a legal act to permanently end indiscriminate and arbitrarily-targeted uses of biometric data in ways which can lead to mass surveillance or any undue interference with fundamental rights. The Commission considers that the ECI is legally admissible, as it meets the necessary conditions, and therefore decided to register it. The Commission has not analysed the substance of the ECI at this stage. The full press release is available online and more information on the ECI can be found on the website.

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coronavirus

European Citizens' Initiatives: Commission welcomes swift adoption of temporary measures to address impact of #COVID-19 on Citizens' Initiatives

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Following the proposal by the Commission of 20 May, the European Parliament and Council formally adopted on 14 July an agreement on temporary measures to allow for the extension of certain time limits which apply to the European Citizens' Initiatives (ECI). 

These temporary measures come in response to the difficulties in public campaigning and the collection of statements of support that organizers face during the coronavirus outbreak. Vice President Věra Jourovà said: “We very much welcome the swift adoption by the co-legislators of these temporary measures. These will provide the necessary legal certainty and clarity for organizers and should serve as reassurance that Citizens' Initiatives are not at risk because of the pandemic.”

 The rules, which extend the period for the collection of statements of support by six months for all initiatives that were ongoing on 11 March 2020 - the day when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a worldwide pandemic – will apply until the end of 2022.

This extension will also apply retroactively to initiatives that ended their collection period between 11 March and the adoption of the new rules, and to those that started their collection between 11 March and 11 September 2020. The new rules also allow the Commission to decide on additional 3-month extensions, in case national confinement measures are continued in response to the pandemic, or in case of a new outbreak.

The Commission can likewise grant a member state an extension of up to three months to verify the collected statements of support. Finally, for successful initiatives, it will be possible to organize the meeting with the organizers and the hearing in the European Parliament remotely or to postpone them until the situation allows for in person meetings.

The text of the Regulation is available on the European Citizens' Initiatives website and will also be published in the Official Journal. 

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Animal welfare

#EndTheCageAge - NGOs, MEPs and EU citizens unite to celebrate success of the European Citizens Initiative #ECI

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Today (8 October) NGOs, MEPs and EU citizens came together in Brussels - the heart of the EU - to celebrate the end of a historic European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) and send a strong and clear message to the EU Commission and the Council of the EU.

Compassion in World Farming and representatives of other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were joined by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and EU Citizens to celebrate the closing of the End the Cage Age ECI, which gained 1,617,405 signatures, making history for farm animals.

The event took place at the heart of the EU area in Brussels, at the esplanade located opposite Schuman roundabout and between the EU Council and EU Commission buildings. Ode to the Pig, an eye-catching 10-metre sculpture of a pig jumping to freedom was on display, while videos and speeches were shown on two screens within the eyeline of the EU Commission and EU Council buildings. Additionally, an 18-metre circular banner with the message “For animals, end caged farming”, was placed in the middle of Schuman roundabout, visible from all surrounding buildings and pedestrians on the roundabout. Attendees shared photos and stories on social media using #EndTheCageAge communicating messages of celebration, determination and hope.

NGO representatives delivered passionate speeches on the significance of this ECI for farm animals and EU citizens, as well as on the extraordinary collaborative effort of over 170 NGOs. “We did it! All of us came together, as friends, as comrades, as animal advocates. And you know what - we beat the system - we got the continent standing up, to say no to cages.

“A year ago, we were contemplating taking on a challenge; an ECI to end cages for farm animals. This is no short order, since most ECIs in the past have failed,” said Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming. “The hard work doesn’t stop here - now we must make this ECI count, through advocacy work and legislation.”

Martina Stephany, director for farm animals and nutrition at Four Paws, said: “This ECI has shown that European citizens care a lot about what is happening in the livestock industry. They stand with organisations from different countries and backgrounds, unified behind the goal to End the Cage Age. We will make sure that their voice will be heard. Today this movement made history, but we will not rest until we reach our goal and cages are banned all over Europe.”

MEPs continued by stressing the importance of the End the Cage Age ECI and how its result dictates to the EU Institutions that the time for immediate action has come.

Eleonora Evi, MEP, vice president of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and co-chairwoman of the Cage-Free Working Group, said: “Today we’re celebrating a record-breaking achievement. Over 1.6 million citizens from all over Europe have said loud and clear: We want animals out of cages now! Together with other MEPs, we will make sure that the European Commission stops ignoring the demands of its citizens, and that it bans cages in farming."

“The EU claims to have the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but still locks up animals in cages. Hundreds of millions of farm animals in the EU suffer daily, unable to express their natural behaviour”, said Anja Hazekamp, MEP, president of the Animal Welfare Intergroup and co-chairwoman of the Cage-Free Working Group. “It's high time the EU entered the 21st century. The torture of these innocent, sentient beings must end, once and for all."

One of the most emotive aspects of the day was the moment Angelina Berlingò, an Italian citizen, delivered her speech representing more than 1.6 million EU Citizens. She campaigned for the ECI and single-handedly collected more than 2,000 digital and paper signatures. “It’s been a great personal journey to be part of the campaign’s general success”, said Angelina. “The result of this petition brings hope for a better world for both human and non-human animals. I’m here today to shout once again: End the Cage Age!”

More about the End the Cage Age ECI

The End the Cage Age ECI closed on 11 September, 2019, having gained over 1.6 million signatures during a 12-month period. This marks one of the most significant days for farm animals that the world has ever seen.

The aim of the End the Cage Age ECI is to end the use of cages for farm animals across Europe. Over 300 million pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, quail and calves are imprisoned in cages across the EU. Most cages are barren, cramped, and deny the animals space to move freely or express their natural behaviours. Cages are cruel and completely unnecessary.

End the Cage Age ECI has been a collaborative effort, where Compassion in World Farming joined forces with 170 NGOs from across Europe. Environmental, consumer rights and animal protection groups formed a broad-based coalition to rally citizens from every corner of the continent. This is the first time in history that this number of European organisations has come together for farm animals.

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