Problems and Purpose
The European Citizens' Initiative gives EU citizens a channel to directly influence policy by proposing legislation on matters that concern the entire continent. Initiatives that garner 1 million signatures across a wide range of Member States are considered for implementation by the European Commission.
Background History and Context
The legal basis of the ECI is laid out in the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in December 2009 and amends the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and Treaty of Rome (1957). The Treaty of Lisbon reinforces the right of citizens to “participate in the democratic life of the Union” and outlines the details of the ECI.
The first initiatives were registered in early 2012.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The ECI program is primarily overseen by the European Commission who is mandated to review all proposals with over 1 million signatures. No EU funding is provided to the public to organize an ECI.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participation is open to all EU citizens (i.e., nationals of a Member State); non-EU nationals cannot organize a citizens’ initiative, serve as members of a citizens’ committee, or submit a statement of support. To participate in any part of the process, citizens need to be old enough (though not necessarily registered) to vote in European Parliament elections – 18 years of age, except in Austria where the minimum age is 16.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may be members of citizens’ committees but cannot be counted as one of the requisite 7 citizens, meaning that they may not be mentioned on the committee registration form. Participants in the citizens' committees must residie in at least 7 different Member States.
Methods and Tools Used
Citizen initiatives and similar methods of public policy propsal are found in many Western democratic nations. In most European countries, citizens’ initiatives already exist at national, regional, and local levels, although they vary significantly in terms of their procedure and scope. The ECI allows citizens to address issues that cut across Member States.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The first ECI was symbolically registered by the Commission on Europe Day – May 9, 2012. This initiative, named Fraternité 2020, is a movement by the Young European Citizens’ Convention to enhance European exchange programs (such as Erasmus and the European Voluntary Service) and increase international solidarity. As of July 2012, six other ECIs had been officially registered, including:
- Stop Vivisection (advocating animal rights and the protection of their welfare in scientific research)
- Let Me Vote (petitioning for the right of EU citizens living in another Member State to vote in all political elections in their country of residence)
- One of Us (arguing for the right to life from conception and denouncing the use of human embryos in research)
- EU Directive on Dairy Cow Welfare (supporting policies to improve the well-being of cows)
- Right to Water (advocating that access to sufficient and clean drinking water is a human right, and that management of water resources should not be liberalized)
- Single Communication Tariff Act (lobbying for the end of roaming fees across Europe)
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Know what influence and effects this initiative had? Help us complete this section!
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
European Citizens' Iniative Process (method)
Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review
Citizens' Guide to the ECI: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/how-it-works
Lead Image: European Citizens' Initiative/Europa https://bit.ly/2OWcxnp