Ahead of the vote Democracy International, Mehr Demokratie and WeMove.EU today (28 October) handed over to the EU deputies 76,397 signatures by people from all across Europe who demand a functioning instrument of participatory democracy at EU level. “Today the European Parliament has moved one step closer to more democracy in Europe. The reform proposals turn the ECI into a more accessible instrument of citizen participation, and its political impact is significantly strengthened. Now these improvements quickly need to be realised” states Sophie von Hatzfeldt, campaigning for ECI reform on behalf of Democracy International.
In view of the steady decline of launched European Citizens' Initiatives since first April 2012 (the day the ECI became operational) and the fact that only three ECIs qualified for submission to the European Commission, Democracy International, Mehr Demokratie and WeMove.EU had demanded to urgently improve the ECI. The three organisations developed concrete recommendations for ECI reform to be integrated into the report that the European Parliament adopted today. While the EU Parliamentarians followed demands such as lowering the voting age to 16 years and translating citizens' law proposals into the EU's official languages, they refused that ECIs can target EU primary law.
“At least the European Citizens' Initiative gives people access to EU politics. Also in the future they can put issues on the legislative agenda”, says Michael Efler, spokesperson of the board of Mehr Demokratie. “In the medium term the ECI needs to be upgraded to an instrument of direct democracy, including European-wide referenda as a second step to an ECI”.
The campaign by Democracy International, Mehr Demokratie and WeMove.EU took place in the legislative context of ECI review, which foresees an assessment of the ECI after three years being in practice. The report adopted by the European Parliament today means an intermediate step in the entire reform process. It is now passed to the European Commission that will come up with a proposal on how to change the ECI regulation. The European Parliament and Council of Ministers again need to decide on these changes. A final agreement on the rules of the European Citizens' Initiative is expected for 2016.
Contacts in Strasbourg:
Sophie von Hatzfeldt: +49 157 733 032 41
Michael Efler: +49 173 961 04 54
Petitions for ECI reform
by Mehr Demokratie
by Democracy International
Concrete demands and reform proposals
Photos of the delivery of ECI signatures in Strasbourg will be available online as of 29 October here
A video will be available online here as of 30 October 2015.