April 23, 2018 / 1:47 PM / 9 months ago

EU Commission may refuse to heed public petitions - court

FILE PHOTO: The towers of the European Court of Justice are seen in Luxembourg, January 26, 2017. Picture taken January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is not required to propose a law after a successful public petition, the European Court of Justice said on Monday, ruling on a case of anti-abortion activists.

The court said EU citizens may invite the Commission, the EU executive, to propose an EU law if a so-called “citizens’ initiative” gathers 1 million signatures from at least a quarter of EU countries, but such an invitation was not binding.

“A contrary interpretation would result in the Commission being stripped of all discretion in exercising its powers of legislative initiative following a European citizens’ initiative,” the court said.

The case was brought by a group of EU anti-abortion campaigners who had asked the Commission to ban activities which lead to the destruction of human embryos, such as research, and any direct or indirect funding of abortion.

Even though the initiative gathered the necessary signatures, the Commission said in 2014 that it would not take any action based on the petition.

Out of thousands of projects funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme, 16 are related to human embryonic stem cells, with a total EU contribution of around 20 million euros ($24.48 million).

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; additional reporting by Samantha Koester; Editing by Alison Williams

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