Durao Barroso reiterates European Commission’s answer to RCAT-sponsored European Citizen Initiative


Author: RCAT web team 

The president of the European Comission has recently answered to a parlamentary question on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) sponsored by Reagrupament Independentista (RCAT)


European Comission (EC) President, Mr. José Manuel Durao Barroso, answered a parliamentary question in the following terms: “I’m confirming that, in the hypothetical case of the secession of a territory of any EU state member, the eventual solution ought to be found by means of a negotiation within the international legal framework”.

Thus Barroso made clear that the outcome of a hypothetical secession of a territory which now belongs to an EU state member should be discussed internationally and managed according to international law, especially if the citizens of such a new independent territory want to keep their European citizenship which is complementary but cannot substitute the national one as it is determined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The question was submitted by Ms. Maria Bizzotto, MEP, from Veneto. She reminded that European Citizen Initiative mechanism is intended to reinforce citizen´s participation in EU decision-making processess, and that RCAT sponsored ECI was precisely aimed to guarantee to all citizens from a new born state, as resulted from a Catalonia´s secession from Spain, their keeping of EU citizens status and rights. She asked a clarification whether those citizens would immediately lose its EU citizenship, and associate rights and duties. Last May the RCAT sponsored ECI wasn´t admitted by European Commission on the grounds that its content was beyond its competences. On April, a committee of citizens leaded by Dr.Joan Carretero, president of RCat, submitted the Initiative to Brussels.

But after an exhaustive examination EC bodies decided it was “clearly outside the ambit of competence of the Commission”, as written by Ms. Catherine Day , Secretary General, in her answering letter, dated on May, 30th. According to article 20 of TFEU “only those who have the nationality of a Member State (MS) can also be EU citizens”. So “EU citizenship is complementary, not a substitutive one, to national citizenship” she explained.

Besides, Ms. Day, clearly asserted, that no legal basis can be found in EU treaties to give some guide, by means of secondary legislation, to the consequences of the secession of any part of a MS. The solution, therefore, ought to be found in a negotiation process within the framework of international law which regulates how new states can be created.

Mr. Barroso that answered on behalf of the European Comission reiterated all those views, and specifically admitted that the solution to a hypothetical secession of any part of a MS should be discussed according to international law as it happens whenever a Declaration of Independence breaks out.

European Citizens initiatives were adopted according to the Treaty of Lisbon so as to allow European citizens to request new legislation from the EU which may help their interests in those ambits of EC competence. These ECI may be submitted since April 1st, and must be supported by a million signatures of European citizens from at least seven different countries. Signatures can start being collected once an ECI has been given admission by the European Commission which has the power to reject those ECI to be considered really “abusive, frivolous, offensive, contrary to European values or outside its ambit of competence”.

(Translation: JJTN)