Campaign Launched to Pressure European Commission to Use Traditional Definition of Marriage

EU flags in front of the Berlaymont building, head office of the European Commission (Amio Cajander, CC BY-SA 2.0)
EU flags in front of the Berlaymont building, head office of the European Commission (Amio Cajander, CC BY-SA 2.0) (photo: Screenshot)

In the shadow of the Synod on the Family, ordinary citizens from across the European Union gathered in Rome on Tuesday to launch a bold initiative that defends the traditional definition of marriage.

Called “Mums, Dads & Kids”, a new European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) has been launched with the objective of binding the European Commission to defining marriage as between one man and one woman when legislating on conjugality.

At the press conference announcing that the text of the petition had been successfully submitted to the European Commission, Hungarian Edit Frivaldszky, President of the Mums, Dads & Kids Citizens’ Committee, said: “It is obvious to us that the State recognize marriage, not because of our feelings, but because it wants to secure the welfare of the nation. Marriage is important to the State because it is not [only] a private contract but a public institution…marriage protects the family. Anything to be decided on the family should be done at the member state level. However, we see that more and more EU texts are talking about the family — we need a definition for those situations where the European Commission needs to refer to family and marriage.”

Maria Hildingsson, representing Sweden on the Citizens’ Committee, was keen to underline to the Register that “this ECI seeks to protect a definition of marriage that is accepted in every one of the EU’s 28 Member States, whilst at the same time reaffirming that marriage — along with all family policy — belongs firmly to the individual member state to decide. With this ECI, we are hoping to ensure that the principle of subsidiarity will be reinforced and protected.”

The European Commission, which is known for taking proactively progressive policy positions, has however already presented several regulations and directives where the family — and marriage — have been mentioned, such as in areas regarding family reunification.

Article 81(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that the European Council can initiate legislation on matters “concerning family law with cross-border implications”, but only where there is unanimity between the member states. Article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union similarly states that it is the competence of each member state to legislate on marriage and the family.

Hildingsson continued: “It is important to underline that we do not recognise the competence of the European Commission to define marriage— rather we are seeking to restrict the Commission to using the one common definition — that of the common denominator accepted in across all 28 European Union member states — in its own legislation.”

Launched in 2012, the ECI mechanism is a tool introduced to alleviate what many saw as a ‘democratic deficit' in the European Union. Of the 30 or so ECIs that have been launched to date, only three have succeeded in collecting the necessary signatures: Right2Water, Stop Vivisection, and perhaps most familiar to Register readers, the impressive anti-abortion campaign One of Us.

The European Commission now has until December 15 to decide whether to accept — or not — the proposed ECI, and should the Commission accept it, the Citizens’ Committee would then have 12 months to collect a minimum of one million signatures in a minimum of seven member states.

The veteran Italian politician and family policy campaigner Luca Volontè, who was one of the original advisors to the Mums, Dads & Kids Citizens’ Committee, told the Register: “This ECI is a grassroots-led initiative. People have come together spontaneously from across the European Union to defend the family. Ordinary people are starting to accept that they cannot leave the defense of their values to the political classes — and they are acting accordingly by taking responsibility themselves. It is incredible, and I am very proud to see this project growing so quickly.”

Hildingsson concluded: “The family is important because it’s the basic unity of society across history and across the world — therefore there is a need for society to support the family.”

EU Citizens who are interested in supporting the ECI can register for more information here.