A step forward in the democratic life of the European Union

On the 15th of December 2010 The European Commission approved the idea of participation of European citizens in the legislation process.  That innovation assigns Citizens’ Committee from the representatives of at least seven Member States bring forward legislative proposals.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration, called the Citizens’ Initiative a new form of participatory democracy to the EU that will bring Europe closer to its citizens.

For submission, at least one million citizens from at least one quarter of the Member States are required to participate. The minimum age for signatories will stay the same as a voting age of each member country. Proposed initiatives will be registered online and after collecting supporting statements, one year will be provided to organizers to collect the necessary signatures.

After the approval of signatures by the Member States, initiatives will be forwarded to the Commission, which will examine the requests within 3 months. Additionally, organizers will have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing organized at the European Parliament.

Citizens from civil society organisations like Democracy International and IRI Europe played an important role in the inclusion of the ECI in the draft EU Constitution and then Lisbon Treaty. MEP Diana Wallis and MEP Gerald Häfner have contributed to ECI Campaign and Democracy International. In 2010 they were nominated as two of the four European Parliament rapporteurs for the ECI.  See one of Gerald Häfners speeches on the ECI:

The procedures for launching a Citizens’ Initiative should be simple and accessible to all, as well as independent from the national authorities. The Initiative should fully assure the data protection and will oblige the Commission to consider all proposals of at least 1 million citizens.

By: Kristina Kucher

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