The collection of signatures for the marriage and family European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Mum Dad & Kids will continue until 3 April 2017, i.e. one year after its official commencement.
“I informed the European Commission of our intention in a letter addressed to Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans,” says Edit Frivaldszky, President of Mum, Dad & Kids. In that letter, she also requested the Commission to remove from its website incorrect information stating the signature collection was to end at an earlier date.
“Many people have already supported Mum, Dad & Kids and we want to ensure that all those who want to support marriage and family have as much time as planned to do so,” Frivaldszky said.
“It is clear from the regulation for European Citizens’ Initiatives that the organisers have 12 months to collect signatures” says Maria Hildingsson, Secretary general of Mum, Dad & Kids. Indeed, article 5 (5) of regulation 211/2011 provides: All statements of support shall be collected after the date of registration of the proposed citizens’ initiative and within a period not exceeding 12 months.
“This provision says that the statements of support must be collected after the ECI has been registered, and within a period of 12 months or less. It does not say that this period must necessarily begin immediately on the day of registration. Indeed, it does not even say that it is for the Commission to decide upon the dates on which that period should begin or end.” says Mrs Hildingsson.
The provision furthermore stipulates:
At the end of that period, the register shall indicate that the period has expired and, where appropriate, that the required number of statements of support was not collected.
This means that at the end of the one-year period a mention should be inserted in the register that the period has expired. It does not mean that upon registering the ECI the Commission should decide, and mention in the register, the date on which the collection of signatures shall end.
”We did not launch the collection of signatures immediately after the initiative’s registration, but only on 4 April 2016. This was due to the difficult procedure for setting up, and obtaining official approval for, an online collection system for signatures in line with the technical requirements set out in Regulation 211/2011.” says Mrs Frivaldszky, who pursues “therefore we want to clarify our intention to go on with the collection until 3 April 2017 as we initially planned.”
An ECI, a tool introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, needs to collect at least 1 million signatures and reach the national quota set by the regulation for European Citizens’ Initiatives in at least seven Member States, which corresponds to a quarter of the 28 countries. Mum, Dad & Kids has reached more than half of the national quotas and one fifth of the total number of signatures required.
The Mum, Dad & Kids ECI invites the European Union to adopt a definition of marriage and family for the purpose of EU legislation, based on the smallest common denominator among the Member States. “Marriage is the union of one man and one woman” and “family is founded on marriage and/or descent” are the definitions that citizens of EU Member States are invited to support through their signature. Indeed, these definitions reflect the common ground of all EU Member States legislations, whilst respecting article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
Article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Right of the EU asserts that every Member State is competent to legislate on the definition of marriage and family. However, over time, more and more EU legislation refers to marriage and family, as illustrated by directives 2004/38/CE and 2003/86/CE.
In addition, there are texts that whilst addressing other issues refer to marriage and family, sometimes even by defining them, but in various ways in different texts. In parallel, the differences between national legislations on the definition of marriage and family are increasing. In this context the European texts have become difficult to understand and thereby to apply, are a source of difficulties and tensions. This is why, in a spirit of clarity, Mum, Dad & Kids suggests to adopt a definition of marriage and family by the European Union for all EU legislation, based on the common denominator of all Member States.
More information about the initiative and the organisers can be found atwww.mumdadandkids.eu