STRASBOURG, France, MARCH 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Martin Kastler, German member of the European Parliament, launched the first citizen referendum of the European Union to request that Sunday be declared a day for family and rest.
“This is the right time to show that as European citizens we want to involve ourselves not only through European elections but also in other ways,” explained Kastler, European deputy from the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, a member of the coalition in power in Germany.
Over 11,375 Europeans of various countries have already signed the online petition to keep Sunday as a day of rest in the whole of Europe.
Kastler presented the online campaign “Mum and Dad Belong to Us on Sunday” in the European Parliament at Strasbourg last month.
Kastler affirmed that this initiative “will strengthen direct democracy in the European Union.”
He continued: “Thanks to the Lisbon treaty and the introduction of the European Citizens’ Initiative, we as European citizens for the first time get the opportunity to stand up for our concerns. We want to use this opportunity to ensure a free Sunday.”
The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force last December, included provisions for the European Citizens’ Initiative, an innovation aimed at increasing democracy in the European Union.
The initiative allows citizens to appeal to the European Commission on a topic of interest. It requires 1 million citizens from a significant number of member states to come together on the topic, at which point the group is able to suggest laws and have a direct voice in the affairs of the European Union.
The deputy invited all who are “convinced that a free Sunday and direct democracy matter” to show their support by signing the petition.
He encouraged citizens to get involved in the democratic process, expressing the hope that the campaign will “build up huge public pressure so that no one can ignore that every Sunday is a family day.”
Kastler affirmed: “The work-free Sunday is part of our European culture.
“We need time for our families and relationships, for civil society and religion. A life full of working days is unlikely to be fulfilling.”
The 35-year-old Parliament member, himself a father of two children, said, “On Sundays, parents are there for their children and children are there for their parents.”
“Europe should be the most child-friendly region in the world,” he said.
The press release noted that Kastler joined with four other deputies last year to introduce to the European Parliament a written declaration regarding the work-free Sunday. The required quota of parliamentary members was not present, but 261 deputies did sign the declaration.
Kastler expressed the hope that “people from different political and social backgrounds can rally behind Sunday protection.”
“Therefore,” he added, “every single person and organization all over Europe is welcome to support the first European Citizens’ Initiative.”
The petition points out that the work-free Sunday is needed in Europe for the children, who “need a family day.”
“Schools and public institutions never used to work on Sundays and do not intend to do so in the future — despite various religious, cultural and ethnical backgrounds,” it affirms.
“Every person needs spare time — to relax, to be active in civil society, for hobbies and for religion,” the petition states.
It adds that “the work-free Sunday is an essential pillar of the European Social Model and a part of the European cultural heritage.”
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On the Net:
Campaign Web site: www.free-sunday.eu