First citizens’ initiative launched in Greece

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A Greek think tank yesterday (16 December) launched the first European Citizens’ Initiative which aims to boost investment in education in times of crisis. EURACTIV Greece reports.

The Greek think tank "DIKTYO” (Network for Reform in Greece and Europe) yesterday presented the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) called “Education is worth any cost!”.

Since the outset of the crisis, the education sector has been severely hit by austerity measures and budget cuts especially in debt-ridden countries, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. 

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), as introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, allows citizens to request new EU legislation once one million signatures from seven member states have been collected asking the European Commission to do so.

Currently, three such initiatives (Right2Water, One of Us, and Stop Vivisection) claim to have reached the target of one million signatures in the EU and a minimum number of signatures in at least seven Member States.

The ECI “Education is worth any cost!” was launched in cooperation with a seven-person European Committee and its main objective is to ensure that education remains a priority in times of crisis.

Anna Diamantopoulou, former EU Commissioner, minister and president of the “DIKTYO” told EURACTIV Greece:

“One of the worst effects of the crisis is under-investment in education, which is the source of inequalities in our country and at the European level.

European citizens have to bring the “Education issue” in the heart of the European politics.”

It proposes to exempt from the measurement of each country's public deficit, that part of government spending for education that is lower than the last five-year eurozone average.

In addition it aims to ensure that resources will be available to be invested in education.

This will allow:

  • combating inequality by providing equal opportunities for education and training to all young people in Europe,
  • to ensure adequate and appropriate infrastructures and tools for high quality education in times of crisis.

Among of the supporters of the initiative are Hannes Swoboda, Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the Nobelist Christoforos Pissarides, Stamatios M. Krimigis, Greek-American scientist in space exploration, Nikos Aliagas,  French – Greek Journalist and entertainer, Joachim Loew, head coach of the German national football team, Victoria Hislop, English author, Mrs Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, Eminent Greek university professor,  Giannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki.

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), as introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, allows citizens to request new EU legislation once a million signatures from nine member states have been collected asking the European Commission to do so.

Article 11 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty says "not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of member states may take the initiative of inviting the [European] Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the treaties". 

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