Statement by Maroš Šefčovič on the launch of the European Citizens' Initiative
Type: Speech - summary
End production: 30/03/2012 First transmission: 30/03/2012
On 30 March 2012, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration, made statement on the launch of the European Citizens' Initiative, in Brussels.
The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon and will increase participatory democracy in the EU. The initiative enables one million EU citizens to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act in an area within the competences of the EU.
The ECI entered into force on 1 April 2012, which offers a unique opportunity for the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee to discuss the concept of participatory democracy with civil society and public authorities at the local and regional level. It also raises a number of issues about the role for both committees and its members, in stimulating, monitoring and reacting on citizens' initiatives, and on its position between civil society and the European policy makers.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration (in ENGLISH): I think that what citizens can achieve is really to set the agenda for the Commission and the EU institutions. If there is something that they really care about, that they would like to see change or have an idea or get across the EU institutions about some possible new legislation or a new way of how we should do things in the EU, they have a chance. Now citizens have a new democratic tool to tell the European institutions what they would like to achieve and how they would like to get it changed.
||Soundbite by Maroš Šefčovič (in ENGLISH): If you get 1 million citizens supporting a particular idea, you have to treat it with respect and we have to be very precise in what we are going to do, how we are going to explain our position and I think that we will see that the European citizens initiative will trigger a lot of European wide political debates which is something the EU needs. So, I definitely believe that this is a new democratic tool which the citizens will use a lot.
||Soundbite by Maroš Šefčovič (in ENGLISH): I think we did our best to make this legislation on the European citizen's initiative as users friendly as possible. We are offering to the organizers the website in 23 languages where they have all the information and I believe all the answers to the questions. We set up the network where we can give even personal advice to Europe director trough our representations in the capitals of the Member States; we can help the organizers directly here from the Commission to give them advices and on the top of it we have offered to the organizers the open source software for collecting the signatures online and together with the social media today, I really don't think that collecting 1 million of the signatures could be a problem.