The ECI, an example of participative democracy
Why don't you take the initiative and change things in Europe?
Created in 2011, the European Citizens’ Initiative enables European citizens to call upon the European Commission to legislate on a given topic. For this reason it’s recognized as an instrument useful to reduce the “democratic deficit” of the European Union.
Instrument of participatory democracy, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) represents for the citizens of the different member States a means to get involved in the European legislative process and to influence the policy-making process in the EU. Actually, through the ECI, European citizens challenge the Commission on a topic and encourage them to submit legislative proposals in the areas within its competence (environment, biodiversity, public health, trade, transport, agriculture, etc.). The ECI should be distinguished from the right of petition, to the extent that in this case, the petitions are addressed to the European Parliament, which is responsible to challenge the European Commission.
To launch a citizens’ initiative, it’s necessary to create first a «citizen’s committee» made up of at least seven (7) citizen’s of the Union and residing in at least 7 different member States. The members of this committee must also have the age required to vote for the European Parliament.
From the date of registration, the initiative has a period of one year to collect at least 1 million signatures. Once it has collected one million signatures, the Commission must examine the initiative and decide what measures should be taken.
However, the Commission has no obligation to submit a legislative proposal following the exam of the ECI (for several reasons that will be explained). In fact, even though the Commission reserves the right to not follow up an ECI, it has to set out the reasons behind its refusal. However, if the Commission decides to do so, the normal legislative process is then initiated.
The rules and procedures concerning the citizens’ initiatives are contained in a EU regulation adopted in February 2011.
Currently different ECI are ongoing, among which:
An ECI concerning the protection of biodiversity called: Save the bees and the farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture for a healthy environment. The objective of this action is to reduce the use of pesticides which are harmful for the habitat of the bees through an environmentally-friendly agriculture that respects biodiversity. This initiative should collect one million signatures by September 30. 2020.
Another initiative concerning food and particularly the nutriscore « PRO-NUTRISCORE » has been launched on May 08. 2019. This initiative calls on the Commission to impose simplified « Nutriscore » labeling on food products, to guarantee that consumers are provided with quality nutritional informations.
Another initiative regarding the access to housing called « HOUSING FOR ALL» has been launched since the 18th of Marche 2019. This ECI aims to encourage the EU to create the legal and financial conditions in order to enable affordable housing for all in Europe. The initiative can be signed until the 18th of March 2020.
In order to influence more the policies that are relevant for you, all the ECI are available on the official website of the European Commission: Take the Initiative!