Civil society groups call on MEPs to fully commit to EU's citizens' initiative

Written by Maarten de Groot on 8 June 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

MEPs must take a more active role in making the European Citizens’ Initiative succesful, argues Maarten de Groot.

Enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, EU citizens have had the right to start a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) since April 2012.

This instrument allows for a minimum of one million citizens from at least seven different EU member states to invite the European Commission to start legislation or take some other kind of legal action.

While many agree on the potential of such a participatory instrument for much-needed democratisation of the EU, the experience of the first six years has resulted in a lot of frustration for Citizens’ Initiative organisers and supporters.

From the 70 initiatives that begun by citizens only five have reached the one million threshold.

The impact of the successful ECIs on European policymaking has been seen as marginal at best. This threatens the future of this instrument.

The EU institutions are currently revising the ECI regulation. On 20 June, the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote on a draft report to the Commission's ECI revision proposal.

Even if this vote by itself doesn’t produce the final regulation - the trilogue negotiations with the Commission and the Council still need to follow after the summer - it is nonetheless a crucial stage in the process.

"The ECI Campaign has initiated an open letter to Parliament, calling on the MEPs to have a debate and vote in plenary on every single successful ECI before the Commission adopts its formal response"

This is even more so, because the question of the role that the European Parliament attributes to itself in the follow-up to successful ECIs is of key importance to the success of any reform.

It is against this background that the ECI Campaign has initiated an open letter to Parliament, calling on the MEPs to have a debate and vote in plenary on every single successful ECI before the Commission adopts its formal response.

The call for co-signatories to the letter has led 51 civil society organisations and 16 ECIs (including all five successful ones) to endorse the letter and join our struggle for a better Citizens’ Initiative.

This responsive, mobilisation demonstrates the resilience and importance of civil society as much as it indicates the hunger for politically meaningful democratic reforms in Europe.

Download the Open Letter - European Parliament make the ECI work!

About the author

Maarten de Groot is EU Democracy Campaign Coordinator at the ECI Campaign

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