How is a European Citizens’ Initiative different from a regular petition?
A European Citizens’ Initiative is different from a “normal” petition: it is an official democratic instrument that enables EU citizens to help shape Europe by asking the European Commission to propose a legislative act. If we manage to collect one million (validated) signatures, the EU Commission will be legally obliged to deal with our demands.
Why do I have to provide this specific information?
The #StopSettlements campaign does not take the decision over what data is required for the signing of a European Citizens’ Initiative by the member states. The respective EU member states determine themsleves which data must be collected, so that the signatures are valid and counted. For this reason, in an ECI it is necessary to give more personal data than you are used to from other “petitions”. However, all data collected ny signing the #StopSettlements ECI will not be passed on to us – instead, it is forwarded directly to a secure server located in Germany, using a specially certified software (OpenECI), so that the responsible national authorities can verify the validity of your vote. This is necessary because an ECI is an official EU instrument, so whether the signatures actually come from citizens of an EU member state has to be checked. Your personal data will be permanently deleted after official verification by the national authorities. We would be pleased if you could sign this Citizens’ Initiative on the basis of these explanations. Only then you will have signed the ECI and your signature can be counted.
Why didn’t I receive a confirmation e-mail when I signed the ECI?
Your data will of course be transmitted securely and encrypted. All data collected -when signing the ECI in “Step 2” – with the software certified by the European Commission (OpenECI) goes directly to a secure server. It will not be sent to us and for this reason it is not possible to send you a confirmation of your participation. Only the competent national authorities can inspect the votes for random verification of their validity. This is necessary because an ECI is an official EU instrument. Your personal data will be permanently deleted after official verification by the national authorities.
How can I support the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) as a private person or organization/association?
There are many possibilities. You can support the ECI:
By signing the ECI now on this website.
By telling your family, friends and colleagues about our ECI and its goals. This is very important since we will only achieve the necessary system change if a sufficiently large amount of people recognize the urgency of the current crisis and the dire need for rapid action to counter it.
By sharing our content on social media [insert links]. You can also print out signature forms, collect signatures from relatives and send the signed forms to us by post (you will find the address on the forms).
By supporting the work of the #StopSettlements team with a donation [link]
I'm not sure I've signed the ECI yet. Can I sign a second time or is my signature invalidated?
Yes, sign again if you’re unsure. Your signature is valid and is counted only once. The software automatically detects double signatures and sorts out duplicates.
I am a national of one EU member state but living in another EU member state. In which member state do I sign?
In the case of the online signature:
In the “please select country” box write your nationality the widget will be configured to ask you the specific requirements for that nationality (whatever the country you live in is: Address, ID, etc…).
In the “nationality” box, put your nationality again
In most cases, you will have to fill in your address. There you choose the EU country you live in
Sent it back to the address written on the signature form
Depending on the data required by these member states, you may have the possibility to choose between signing for your nationality or your living country, bearing in mind that you can sign up only once for the #StopSettlements initiative. The data which you provide in your signature will determine in which member state your signature will be counted.
Example: An Austrian living in Estonia can either:
Fill in the form for Estonia, providing his/her full first names, family names, address, date and place of birth and nationality – in this case, his/her signature will be verified and therefore counted in Estonia.
Fill in the form for Austria, providing in addition to the above data a personal identification document number from the list accepted by Austria – in this case, his/her signature will be verified and therefore counted in Austria.
I am EU citizen resident outside of the EU. Can I sign the ECI?
This depends on the member state of which you are national. Depending on the requirements asked by the member states, you may or may not be able to sign up online. This is due to the fact that some member states require an EU address. For those who will have the possibility to sign up, your vote will be counted in your member state of nationality. For those who cannot sign online, then you can print the paper form, fill it in with your nationality and address and send it back to us.
Why does the European Commission have to stop trading with illegal settlements?
Settlements that are created and expanded by an occupying force in occupied territories violate the highest norms of international law. When occupied territory is annexed de jure or de facto, for example by means of settlements, this is against international law, and such an annexation and settlements have no legal validity. As a result, trade with such settlements is illegal.
Is stopping trade with illegal settlements a sanction?
No, it is not a sanction, and the Commission has now formally acknowledged this. A sanction targets a specific State with the aim of changing its behavior. The goal of this ECI is that the EU enacts a general rule that clarifies it will never trade with any illegal settlements. That includes stopping trade with illegal settlements in present occupations such as in Palestine and the Golan Heights, but also in future conflicts where illegal settlements are installed on occupied territory.
Is stopping trade with illegal settlements an obligation under international law?
Yes, it is. Illegal settlements break the highest norms of international law. These include the prohibition to acquire territory by the use of force, the prohibition on colonialism and apartheid, the right to self-determination, and the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law. All States and international organizations, including the EU and its Member States, have obligations to not recognize and not assist breaches of these norms. Trade, however, both recognizes illegal settlements and assists them and their expansion.
Does this initiative call for the stopping of all trade with occupied territories?
No. This ECI calls for an end to all trade that benefits the occupant’s illegal settlements. It does not call for a trade prohibition with occupied territories since this would disallow fair trade with the peoples whose territories are being annexed or occupied.
Why did the European Commission first reject the registration of the Citizens Initiative?
The Commission claimed that the ECI wanted a sanction, even if it was clear we wanted a general measure that acknowledges the EU will never trade with illegal settlements. We presumed bad faith on the side of the Commission and challenged the rejection in front of the European Court of Justice. We won. This eventually led to the Commission recognizing that it is competent to stop trade with illegal settlements.
Is the European Commission evading its responsibility?
Most certainly so, but hopefully that will change. The Commission has confirmed that the measure envisaged by the ECI would require enacting import and export prohibitions or restrictions vis-à-vis territories that are occupied under international law, and that it has the competence to enact such measures. If the Commission confirms this competence, then why has it continued to trade with illegal settlements all these years? This has been and continues to be in direct violation of its obligations under international law.
Are individual Member States also obliged to stop trading with settlements?
They certainly are. The international legal obligations of non-recognition and non-assistance also apply to all EU member states. They are also explicitly permitted under EU law, namely under the Common Rules for Imports, to enact trade restrictions for reasons of public morality and public policy. They do not need approval from the Commission for this, nor do they need to wait for the Commission to act, because every day they allow settlement trade in their territory is another day they themselves are violating obligations under international law.
What can Members of the European Parliament do?
Members of European Parliament play a critical role as they provide democratic oversight over the EU’s external economic relations. The Parliament’s Committee on International Trade and individual MEPs can immediately request the Commission to implement a general rule that will stop trade with illegal settlements.
What can parliamentarians from Member States do?
National MPs can and should stop trade with settlements on their own, for example by invoking the right to do so under the Common Rules on Imports. A general framework of a law that can do this is already available to them and can be found here [insert link].
What can governments from Member States do?
Member state governments should support national legislation to stop trade with illegal settlements. They can and should also discuss the stopping of trade with settlements in the European Council. The Council can request the Commission to work out a proposal by simple majority (i.e. 14 member states in favor), and vote over it by qualified majority (i.e. 15 member states representing 65% of the European population in favor). Unanimity, as is required with foreign policy actions, including sanctions, is not needed because stopping trade with settlements is not a sanction.
The EU allows profits from annexation and occupation. European Citizens will change that, once and for all.