European Citizens' Initiative – into the final straight
On 1 April 2012, the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) will be officially launched, enabling citizens from across the EU to potentially change the way in which EU policy-making happens by gathering support from one million EU citizens from at least seven Member States.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, who is in charge of the ECI, welcomed the launch of what he said was a "game changing" development in participatory democracy at a press conference on Wednesday with European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Denmark's Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, representing the EU Presidency.
All three underlined the importance of the ECI in improving the transparency, openness and accountability of the EU, while V-P Šefčovič added that the ECI, helped by social media, would allow citizens from all four corners of the EU to debate and discuss common issues, creating a new cross-border debate focused on European issues.
The Commission's online register of initiatives will officially open on Sunday 1 April, and will be a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in creating, supporting or simply learning more about pan-European initiatives.
The Commission has also produced a handy users' guide to help citizens interested in launching ECIs, as well as posters to promote the ECI. Both are available in all 23 official EU languages.
V-P Šefčovič has been increasingly active in promoting the ECI ahead of the official 1 April launch, in interviews with the media, discussions with national and European parliamentarians and through participation in a number of conferences.
He will also take part in the conference organised jointly by the EU Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee this coming Friday, where he will urge local and regional representatives and civil society groups to play their part in promoting and supporting the ECI.