Austrian Youth Group Claim Discrimination By European Parliament

Information Stand on European Citizens Initiative Abruptly Cancelled by EU

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An event aimed at promoting the right to life and the European Citizens’ Initiative, One of Us, was abruptly cancelled by the European Parliament, prompting worries from an Austrian Youth Group planning to host the event of discrimination.

Carina Broucek, the press officer of Youth for Life, said that she and her group feel discriminated against by the European Parliament: “This decision by the European Parliament political leadership is incomprehensible. Our event, an information stand within the buildings of the European Parliament in Brussels, was registered according to the rules in force of the Parliament,” said Carina Broucek, a press officer for the group, Youth For Life.

Information stands run by lobbyists or citizens are very common in the European Parliament because such information stands give Members of the European Parliament the opportunity to get in touch with the citizens and their interests.

“For instance only last week they authorized such stands to encourage MEPs to sign Written Declarations on issues such as victims of colonization, online child sexual abuse and the mistreatment of greyhounds,” Broucek said. “These are all no doubt worthy cases about which it is good to raise awareness. But it would seem as if the European Parliament believes that unborn human beings deserve less attention than greyhounds.”

Youth for Life was invited by the Austrian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ewald Stadler. They planned to present the development of the unborn human beings and the European Citizen’s Initiative One of us. The One of us initiative is based on a decision of the Court of Justice of the EU (C-34/10, Greenpeace v. Brüstle). In this decision the EU judges pronounced that human life starts at the moment of conception. “The Parliament claimed that our information stand was too controversial. I wonder if there is any political topic which is not controversial. What are parliaments for, if not to examine controversial issues.” explained Broucek. The MEP responsible for authorizing exhibitions and information stands, Quaestor Jim Higgins from Ireland, a member of the Fine Gael political party in the EPP group, justified his decision to refuse authorization for the requested information stand by a note of a couple of words.

“We appealed the decision of Quaestor Jim Higgins and wrote to him and the full College of Quaestors, offering to leave out any material that could be considered to be controversial if Mr. Higgins would simply identify what texts or pictures he found offensive. But we insisted on our right to promote One of Us because it is a European Citizens’ Initiative which is a right guaranteed to the EU citizens in the Lisbon Treaty. The initiative has already received prior approval of the European Commission as being eligible to collect signatures.” Broucek said.

“This is the first time the Parliament has banned the promotion of a Europeans Citizens’ Initiative. I am extremely shocked by this discrimination. All other campaigners have free access to the Parliament. And what is about us?”

Youth for Life intends to lodge a formal complaint with the European Ombudsman on the grounds that this refusal is a case of maladministration. The group also cites that the complaint lodged against Youth For Life occured in a closed door meeting where the group was not invited to defend their cause. “Such kangaroo courts are unworthy of a democratic institution like the European Parliament,” Broucek stated.

The President of the Parliament, Martin Schulz, has also been called upon to comment on the case. According to the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, the President has to give a formal response within 30 days to a question tabled by any MEP. MEP Ewald Stadler who had invited and encouraged Youth for Life to come to Brussels launched such a procedure.

“We are curious to see how President Schulz will address this issue. As the most senior political authority in Parliament, I hope that he will defend the interest of European citizens,” Broucek said.

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