News Analysis

A pro-life ‘citizens’ initiative’ has received the cold shoulder

The European Court of Justice's emblem

The EU is constitutionally committed to the idea of democracy. Furthermore, every country in it is by tradition Christian, about a third being fairly strongly Catholic. Yet shortly before Christmas the European Court of Justice rebuffed an attempt to use democracy to promote Christian values.

In 2013 an Italian initiative under the aegis of Pope Francis, Uno di Noi (One of Us), called for an end to activities involving abortion or destruction of human embryos, and to any EU financing of them. The idea spread and became a “citizens’ initiative”, an EU legal procedure allowing a million or more EU citizens from at least seven member states – if they jump through bureaucratic hoops – to register and present a formal proposal for EU legislation to the Commission. The latter, however, sensing a hot political potato, refused to consider taking the matter further.

The proponents went to court, arguing not unreasonably that if the Commission could simply brush off a people’s initiative it did not like then the procedure was an expensive white elephant. The court, however, was having none of it. To give citizens more than a right to ask the Commission politely to think about the matter would, it said, take away the Commission’s discretion over legislation, something quite unacceptable in EU terms. Citizens’ initiatives merely provided “possibilities and opportunities” for voters to “initiate debate on policy within the EU institutions”.

Perhaps we should not be surprised.

The EU population might be nominally Christian, but the EU ruling class is definitely not, worshipping instead at the altar of secularism and human rights. Furthermore, EU institutions, faithful to this lead, are already involved in a number of projects in Africa and elsewhere financing, among other things, abortion.