On Wednesday, 8 February, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Saeima conceptually supported amendments to the Law on National Referendums and Initiation of Legislation which will enable the general public to participate in the European Union (EU) policy-making.
According to the regulation which sets the legal framework for the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a million signatories from at least a quarter of the member states may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission to submit any appropriate legislative proposals within its sphere of competence.
The national law will contain a new chapter on the ECI requiring the citizens’ signatures gathered in support of an initiative to be submitted to the Central Election Commission, which is responsible for counting and verifying such signatures.
If signatures are collected online, the initiators will be obliged to approach the competent authority to obtain a certificate stating that the online system used for collecting signatures complies with the applicable technical and security requirements. This obligation does not apply to initiators that have obtained such a certificate from a competent authority of another EU member state.
In reply to a question from Solvita Āboltiņa, a member of the Committee, the authors of the draft law explained that the ECI cannot be used as a tool to collect signatures for recognition of Russian as an official language of the EU since only languages with official language status in a member state are eligible, and this matter falls outside the scope of competence of the European Commission.
The amendments are planned to come into force on 1 April 2012.
The amendments to the Law on National Referendums and Initiation of Legislation are still to be considered by the Saeima in three readings.
Saeima Press Service