The EU Commission can but is not required to respond by proposing new legislation, which means that the ECI is not a decision-making instrument. The ECI became legally effective on 1 April 2012. The specific legal procedures for launching an ECI are set out in EU regulation 211/2011. You can check out and sign all ongoing EU Citizens' Initiatives on the official website of the European Commission.
As a result of concerted effort by Democracy International, the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) was incorporated into the Treaty on European Union. We successfully worked for the inclusion of the ECI through several campaigns. We then began work promoting citizen-friendly rules governing its use.
Read the ECI story written by Michael Efler in June 2003. He successfully lobbied with Carsten Berg for the inclusion of the citizens' initiative in the draft constitution. Michael Efler also works for the German NGO Mehr Demokratie.
Campaign for the ECI
We campaigned together with The ECI Campaign for an immediate introduction of the ECI. In 2006/2007 110 NGOs and 41 MEPs supported our demands.
Democracy International is a partner of the ECI support centre, a joint initiative of the European Citizen Action Service, the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe and Democracy International. The purpose of the centre is to give advice and to help ECI organisers with launching and implementing an ECI. The ECI Support Centre has produced a mobile application, which monitors and analyses all sorts of ECI developments. Please access this document for the QR-Code of the App in the following document:
In 2015, three years after the ECI implementation, the European Commission is to present a report to the European Parliament and the Council as established in Article 22 of the ECI Regulation. This is an excellent opportunity for members of civil society organisations, politicians and civil servants to present their proposals for a feasible reform of the ECI. Already in March 2014, ECAS published a position paper which contains various proposals made by the members of the ECI support centre to reform the ECI:
- Increasing the transparency in the decision-making process and to clarify the methods and procedures taken by the European Commission to register or refuse an ECI
- The European institutions should help ECI organisers with the translation of the of each registered ECI
- Facilitating access to funding
- Giving ECI organisers time after registration to prepear their campaigns
- Extending the timeframe for the collection of signatures to 18-24 months
- Allowing third-country nationals and legal persons under Article 20 (2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU to sign an ECI.
Pressure for reforms
Together with our partners, Democracy International advocates the ECI reform to ensure the regulation enables the ECI to become a truly effective agenda setting instrument. Our view is that our representatives in the European Parliament need to stand-up for citizens and fight for democracy in the EU.
We are working with individual supporting European deputies from across the political spectrum to help identify the reform priorities of this ECI campaign, and together we seek to foster debate and awareness, to gather endorsements, and to channel the reforms into the Parliament’s response to the Commission's report.