The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and among it’s political innovations is a “citizens’ petitions” tool. Article 8B says that
“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.”
Among the first petitions to be handed in following the ratification of the Treaty comes from the Nutrition Ecology International Centre, an interdisciplinary scientific committee established with the purpose of investigating the impact of all stages and methods of food production and consumption, with regard to health, environment, society and economy.
The Centre has collected 23,000 signatures for a petition to “stop EU subsidies to livestock industry”. The petition is well short of the 1 million required for a response from the Commission but illustrates the potential for citizen action on food and farming policy under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty. It’s not hard to imagine petitions on controversial issues such as GM crops, trade barriers that harm developing countries or large subsidy payments to wealthy landowners, gaining significant support.