European Citizens’ Initiative brings desicion making closer to people

Elina Rimpiläinen, Linda Finell

Starting from April 1, European citizens’ can directly influence EU legislation. European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a part of the Lisbon Treaty, gives ordinary citizens the opportunity to bring legislative proposals forward to the European Commission.

ECI proposals can be made in the fields that the Commission has legislative power, such as environment, agriculture, transport or public health, and should not conflict with the fundamental values of the European Union.

“The ECI introduces a whole new form of participatory democracy to the EU. It is a major step forward in the democratic life of the Union. It will foster a cross border debate about what we are doing in Brussels,” says Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration.

Initiatives can be made by at least seven people from at least seven EU states. For the Commission to take the proposals into consideration, one million signatures are needed from citizens of at least one quarter of the EU states. It will take up to three months for the Commission to discuss and consider the initiative, once it has been submitted.

The primary purpose of the introduction of ECI is to bring the legislative process closer to the people. Initiatives can be registered and signed online, which makes participation easy and accessible to all. The centralised online service also seeks to ease the administrative burden of national authorities.

The agreement on European Citizens’ Initiative was made in late 2010. The initiatives can be registered starting from April 1.

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