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In the presence of the First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the European Ombudman, many Members of the European Parliament and several experts, also Lawyer Ernst Johansson from Kiel was heard in Brussels on Thursday 26 February 2015 by the Committee for Petitions and the Committee for Constitutional Affairs. One of the co-organisers of the Public Hearing on the citizens'  initiative was Pál Csáky, vice-chair of the Petitions Committee who had suggested inviting FUEN's representatives in order to speak about their experience with the new instrument of European direct democracy. Csáky belongs to the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, and this event was again a good example of how European minorities can cooperate in the EU framework.

FUEN hopes that the hearing before the Committees for Constitutional Affairs and Petitions will lead to a new impetus for realising more direct democracy in the European Union. The main issue is whether and how citizens’ initiatives get a greater say. In July 2013, FUEN launched a citizens’ initiative and applied for registration by the European Commission. The Minority SafePack Initiative, as it is called, wants to strengthen the rights of the minorities in Europe, but unfortunately it was not accepted by the Commission. The initiative of FUEN for the rights of the minorities in Europe is one of the three citizens’ initiatives that were invited to the hearing in the European Parliament. The hearing by the Constitutional Affairs and Petitions Committees will have a profound influence on the future of this European instrument of direct democracy.

The hearing showed that the main point is about the fundamental political and legitimacy-related discussion within the European Union and that questions of organisation, legal and technical issues are secondary. “Citizens’ initiatives were made for ordinary citizens – not for lawyers. The normal citizen must be able to understand the reason for an eventual rejection, and not receive a formal notice that ’the initiative lies manifestly outside the competence’”, said lawyer Ernst Johansson from Kiel, who represents the Minority SafePack Initiative on behalf of FUEN. 

“This reasoning for us is not a reasoning at all”, said FUEN President Hans Heinrich Hansen, who is the chairman of the citizens’ committee of the Minority SafePack Initiative. “The European minorities immediately started to use this crucial instrument of direct democracy. We, minorities in Europe are with 100 million people. We cannot accept the succinct answer that we were rejected because of a lack of competence. Therefore we consider it a clear sign of recognition that we stand today as one of the examples at this high-level hearing next to the most famous initiative “Right to Water”. 

The Minority SafePack Initiative calls on the European Commission to improve the protection of persons belonging to national minorities and linguistic minorities and to adopt a number of legal acts to improve the protection of persons belonging to national minorities and to strengthen cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe. 

“FUEN is offering its experience and expertise in regard to the European Citizens’ Initiative”, says the FUEN President. FUEN also calls for a simplification of the instrument in order to increase its effectiveness.

Minority SafePack Initiative

The members of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) started preparations for a European Citizens’ Initiative. The project is the most important initiative of the minorities in Europe in recent decades and is based on solidarity throughout Europe. A team of experts elaborated our Minority SafePack, which contains a set of measures and concrete legal acts (laws) for the promotion and protection of the European minorities and the regional and minority languages.

In September 2013 the European Commission rejected the initiative, which was submitted by a high-profile citizens’ committee. According to the European Commission, the proposed initiative fell “manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers”.

Currently the Minority SafePack Initiative is waiting for the judgment by the European Court of Justice.

Minority SafePack Initiative Basic Information
Minority SafePack Initiative Document
Minority SafePack Initiative Flyer