The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon (Article 11 TEU and Article 24 TFEU) and was implemented by the (EU) Regulation No 211/2011 on the citizens’ initiative (ECI Regulation) in April 2012
The ECI allows groups of EU citizens (up to one million), coming from at least seven member states, to petition the Commission to introduce legal acts on matters over which it has competence. The rules and procedures governing the citizens’ initiative entered into force on 1 April 2012.
Since the implementation of the ECI regulation, only four initiatives (of more than 60 proposed) have passed the one million signature threshold. Three initiatives led to a Commission communication as a response.
The revision of this instrument after the first five years of its implementation is part of the European Commission’s commitment to increase democratic legitimacy in the EU through enhanced citizens’ involvement and participation, reflecting the political guidelines of the Juncker Commission.
On 21 February 2018, the AFCO and PETI committees held a public hearing on the ECI and the Commission’s legislative proposal for the revision. A variety of stakeholders and experts were invited to speak, including NGOs, academia, the European Commission, the European Ombudsman, as well as representatives from the citizen committees of the previous ECIs ‘Right2Water’ and ‘Minority Safepack.’
The Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2018-2019, published on 14 December 2017, identifies revision of the ECI Regulation as a priority file to be finalised before European elections in 2019. Our office will continue to monitor developments over the year ahead.