A hearing on the European Citizens' Initiative "One of us" was organised today in the European parliament in association with the DEVE, JURI, ITRE and PETI committees. The initiative aims to halt all EU funds for any activities which involve the destruction of human embryos; in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health. "One of us" asks for the modification of a number of EU legislative acts, including the Financial Regulation, the Horizon 2020 regulation on research and innovation, and the old Development Cooperation Instrument regulation.
The European Citizens' Initiative is a new procedure in place since April 2012. It allows EU citizens to organise and collect 1 million signatures to request the EU Institutions to take action in a given area.
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:
"We value the democratic involvement of citizens but what is presented as a European Citizens' Initiative appears to be actually funded by extremist religious and political channels, and closely tied to organisations that are lobbying from the US to Africa against women's and LGBTI rights.
"Essentially, the "One of us" proposals would risk the lives and health of women and children which we will not accept. We will not turn back the clock and inhumanely abandon women in developing countries by denying them the EU funding desperately needed to reduce maternal mortality. Today, about 800 women die every day during pregnancy and child birth. Our focus is to work to reduce maternal mortality. If this initiative achieved its goal it would undo all the progress made with our partners in the developing world and increase maternal mortality.
"Similarly, embryonic stem cell research in the European Union follows strict rules and regulations and is fundamental for the treatment of diseases like diabetes, Parkinson, Huntington and Alzheimer. Constructive debate of ethical standards must not be substituted by ideological hate-speeches as witnessed at the hearing today."
Regarding the initiative's representatives' attempt to prevent S&D MEP Michael Cashman from participating in the debate, Hannes Swoboda added:
"It is beyond unacceptable that an initiative that wants to make use of a democratic instrument does not respect the institution of the European Parliament. Michael Cashman is an elected representative and it is his duty and right to represent the development committee he was speaking for in this hearing. "One of us" need to learn the basic principles of democracy it seems."