"Mum and Dads belong to us on Sunday
" is the message at the heart of the first European Citizens Initiative
launched today in Strasbourg by German MEP Martin Kastler
Presenting his campaign in a press conference, Mr Kastler said he wants to drum up enough support to force the Commission to formulate legislation to protect Sunday as a day of rest in all citizens in Europe.
"Everyone, who is convinced that a free Sunday and direct democracy matter, should register now,
"Mr Kastler said, referring to the dedicated website found at free-sunday.eu
For the 35-year old Member of Parliament, the day of the Sabbath, the day of rest "is part of our European culture. We need time for our families and relationships, for civil society and religion. A life full of working days is unlikely to be fulfilling.
A father of two, he referred to the importance of free Sundays for children: "on Sundays, parents are there for their children and children are there for their parents
Adopting a German labour union motto as the campaign slogan, Mr Kastler called for a European child strategy saying "Europe should be the most child-friendly region in the world.
Last year, he and four other MEPs from different countries introduced a written declaration
on the protection of a work-free Sunday in Europe to the Parliament, and even though the required quota of more than 50% of the MEPs was missed, 261 still signed the declaration.
He is now hoping his campaign will get the support and signatures of 1 million EU citizens from all member states which will trigger the Commission to introduce draft legislation. This Citizens Initiative is one of the big success-stories of the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1st December 2009.
What once began as a suggestion from a Swiss teenager back in 2005
, the Initiative is now enshrined in Article 11.4
of the Treaty on European Union
, which reads: "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.
Mr Kastler's campaign is hardly like to win support from the British who because to their opt-out of the Social Charter are able to be employed and can browse the high-street on Sundays which would be closed in France, Belgium and others.
Nonetheless, Mr Kastler is confident of great success with his initiative saying that "people from different political and social backgrounds can rally behind Sunday protection. Therefore, every single person and organisation all over Europe is welcome to support the first European Citizen initiative.
You can sign the petition yourself at: http://www.free-sunday.eu/