The citizens-friendly European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is one of the major changes created by the Treaty of Lisbon. It aims to increase participatory democracy in the European Union (EU). The initiative enables one million EU citizens to call directly on the European Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them in an area of EU competence. Previous to this initiative, it was impossible for a citizen to directly present an initiative to the EU.
According to the Lisbon Treaty, this is a new form of public participation in European Union policy shaping,” which enables one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States to call directly on the European Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them in an area of EU competence”. However, before citizens can start exercising this new right, a few ground rules and procedures have to be laid down in an EU regulation.
The European Citizens’ Initiative is the very first direct-democratic procedure at the transnational level in world history. It is the citizens’ equivalent to the European Parliaments and the European Councils (member states) right to launch a legislative process. For a successfull European Citizens’ Initiative you need to gather at least one million statements of support form at least seven member states within a year. Formally the European Citizens’ Initiative right will become operative in January 2012. For preparation please consult the European Green Foundations Handbook. Good luck in preparing the first initiatives!
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