In order to collect statements of support online, organisers must build an online collection system accessible through their website complying with the technical specifications set out in Implementing Regulation No 1179/2011. Organisers must then obtain the certification of their system by the competent authority in the member state where the data will be stored.
There are therefore three stages in order to be able to collect online:
To build their online collection system, organisers may choose to use the software provided by the Commission, which already complies with the relevant technical specifications, or develop their own software ensuring that these requirements are met.
The open source software the Commission has developed is available free of charge and provides all the necessary functionalities to collect statements of support online, securely store signatories' data and export the data for verification by the competent national authorities.
Organisers must find a service provider to host their online collection system, taking into account that the data collected must be stored on the territory of an EU member state. Organisers must ensure that the hosting provider – and in particular the servers used to host the online collection system – comply with the relevant requirements of the technical specifications.
A number of initiatives have faced certain difficulties identifying appropriate hosting providers on the market. The Commission is working on measures to provide a long-term solution to these teething problems encountered in the start-up phase of the European citizens' initiative. Until these are in place and functioning, and in order to ensure that the organisers of the first citizens' initiatives face no insurmountable stumbling blocks, the Commission is offering to host online collection systems on its own servers.
For more information on the service exceptionally offered by the Commission, see Hosting of online collection systems by the Commission.
Once the online collection system is set up, organisers must request the system certification from the competent authority of the member state where the hosting provider will store the collected data.