The EC announced that it had approved a six-month extension of petitioning for the European Citizens’ Initiative on protecting national regions. However, The Szekler National Council (SZNT) opposes that despite the circulating news, there is still no legal basis for the resumption of collecting signatures, as the decision must first be approved by both the European Parliament and the European Council.
SZNT President Balázs Izsák announced in a statement that they had received a reply to their letter sent to EC Vice-President Vera Jourová, Hungarian state news wire MTI reports.
According to this letter, the Commission intends to recognize the signatures collected after May 7th retrospectively, but the decision ultimately depends on the European Parliament and the Council.
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However, the initiators are informed that should they decide to continue collecting signatures on their own, there is a risk that the petitions collected after May 7th will not be taken into account.
“We are convinced that it is not possible to continue collecting signatures without a legal basis. We are convinced that people cannot be encouraged to support an initiative by subsequently deleting supporting signatures. We are convinced that a step that goes against the Personal Data Protection Act not only exposes members of the civil committee to the risk of punishment, but also compromises the cause itself, ” reads the statement.
SZNT emphasized that so far it has been on the path of the law and does not intend to deviate from that.
The Szekler National Council submitted the citizens’ initiative to the EC in 2013, but as a result of a legal dispute, petitioning could only start in 2019.
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The signature campaign, which ended on May 7th, collected the supporting signatures of more than one million EU citizens, but failed to meet the required threshold of support among EU Member States. SZNT later argued the petitioning could not succeed as restrictions were introduced in most EU countries to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
On May 20th, the EC announced that it had approved a six-month extension for collecting signatures that were still in progress on March 11th.
However, the decision can only be considered a proposal that must be approved by both the European Parliament and the European Council.
Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI