25-26 March 2014: 497th plenary session

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Presentation of the European citizens' initiative "Act 4 growth" by Ms. Madi Sharma, EESC member, on the 25th of March.

Interventions by members of the Workers' Group

Pierre Jean Coulon

Pierre Jean CoulonPierre Jean Coulon informed his colleagues that he had signed the initiative with enthusiasm, because a trade unionist cannot but support all actions in favour of sustainable development, decent employment and job creation.

In addition, he reminded that the European Commission has not responded to the initiative on the right of access to water – even though the latter was successful – because it found that this particular sector falls within national competences. For Pierre Jean Coulon such a response is unacceptable, because the European citizens' initiative constitutes the ultimate expression of the citizens' voice. It is for this reason that the EESC was greatly welcomed.

However, if the European leaders limit themselves to an online dialogue with their citizens, the democratic deficit will expand further. Pierre Jean Coulon has thus launched a call for a change in attitude, especially within the European Union, rather than in the Member States.

Edgardo Iozia

Edgardo Iozia

Edgardo Iozia thanked Ms. Sharma for offering to the members the chance to debate on a matter as important as equality between men and women. This issue was the object of numerous discussions at European level, but a lot remains to be done in order to ensure real equality in practice. In any case, the conclusion that we can deduce from Ms. Sharma's effort is that something can be done concretely on a particular subject through a European citizens' initiative, as this latter can guarantee real application of the rights of the European citizens.

However, only a few proposals advanced by a European citizens' initiative have had a chance to succeed. The reason is that certain politicians do not really like it when citizens express themselves. The EESC should work towards a change in attitude of the European leaders so that this right introduced by the Lisbon Treaty does not become an empty provision. Moreover, the Committee, as a representative organ of the civil society, has a special responsibility and must intervene to the decision making bodies of the EU so that they respond to successful citizens' initiatives.

The initiative we are discussing contains many useful elements to promote the idea of real equality between men and women; for example, promoting female entrepreneurship. The EESC has always supported this sort of proposals and should continue to do so, especially through the project of members' local activities which was recently put into place.