But isn’t this against the democratic decision of the June 24th referendum? How is this different from all the other petitions that we’ve been signing?
There’s perhaps a good chance that you have run into hundreds of petitions about this matter. Guy Verhofstadt has been among the most vocal proponents of a similar idea and two of the most prominent petitions with a similar aim include this one and this one (each with over 300,000 signatures). However, the latter two initiatives are through the website Change.org which means that they are not official requests that the UK or the EU have to act on. In Verhofstadt’s case, his function as a politician does not allow him to propose an initiative such as this one because it is done by non-partisan and independent citizens. Why?
What we are proposing here is called a European Citizen’s Initiative and it was introduced as a legal instrument of semi-direct democracy by the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon. This means that it is very much a legal and legitimate instrument of democracy. Once the petition reaches one million signatures and it acquires a minimum number from 7 different Member States, the organizers will get to present it to the Commission and they’ll have a public hearing at the European Parliament. After that, as the Commission’s website states: “If the Commission decides to put forward a legislative proposal, the normal legislative procedure kicks off: the Commission proposal is submitted to the legislator (generally the European Parliament and the Council or in some cases only the Council) and, if adopted, it becomes law.”
In other words, this isn’t a mere petition for a representative to express an opinion, it is the first step to creating EU law. More importantly, it is organized by citizens and we are able to draft the very legal act that will then be presented to the European Commission and the European Parliament. There’s already an initiative which hopes to increase the amount of citizenship education in order to shape active and responsible citizens, and there’s an initiative wanting to provide European passports (but careful, a “laissez-passer” does NOT grant the rights to live and work that citizenship guarantees). If you believe in governmental transparency and taking action to protect human rights, this citizens’ initiative is precisely the petition that you’re looking for.