Opinion Factsheet  

AC European citizens’ initiative (ECI)

BGCSDADEELENESETFIFRHRHUITLTLVMTNLPLPTROSKSLSV
Opinion Number: CDR 4989/2017
Rapporteur: VAN DEN BRANDE Luc
Commission: CIVEX
Status: Adopted
Date: 23/03/2018
 
Citizens are at the heart of the EU. Citizen participation needs a place at the European level. Ensuring the proper functioning of the ECI and giving political validation to the outcome of ECI's are first steps towards European responsive, participative democracy.

The European Citizens' Initiative is a right for European citizens. It can help to respond to the perceived democratic deficit of the European Union and to bridge the gap between EU citizens and European institutions and policy makers. The European Citizens' Initiative is the expression of participatory democracy that complements the notion of representative democracy; it enhances the set of rights related to citizenship of the Union and the public debate on European politics.

stress that the European Citizens' Initiative has a huge potential for establishing a more participative democracy. Welcomes the European Commission Proposal (September 2017) to amend the regulation. While some of the new measures propose go in the correct line the political approach is still missing.

provide concrete recommendations for the instrument to enhance its potential. It advocates for increasing the visibility and people's awareness of the ECI, an increased role for the European Parliament and procedural improvements that will make the ECI process more user-friendly for (potential) ECI initiators.

advocate for the involvement of the Committee of the Regions, in particular when the ECIs refer to policy areas for which the Commission must seek advice from the CoR.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- stresses that citizens are at the heart of the European project. The European Citizens' Initiative is a right for European citizens. It can help to respond to the perceived democratic deficit of the European Union and to bridge the gap between EU citizens and European institutions and policy makers;

- considers that the new regulation is an important step in the right direction to improve the ECI's procedures;

- points out that it is of key importance that successful ECIs lead to genuine political debates and receive more substantial political follow-up by the EU institutions;

- welcomes the procedural and administrative improvements in the new regulation proposed by the Commission i.e. a helpdesk service by the Commission and an online collaborative platform for the ECI;

- notes however, the political approach is missing. The new regulation does nothing to resolve the Commission's conflict of interest. The CoR therefore proposed in its 2015 opinion that an impartial ad hoc committee composed of experts, academics and lawyers be set up to investigate the admissibility criteria;

- requests the Commission and the Member States to maximise their communication efforts to make the ECI known to the citizens;

reiterates its commitment to support ECIs which fall within the CoR's political remit and which are deemed politically relevant.