The European Citizens Initiative is finally here!
On 1 April 2012, registration was opened for the new European Citizens' Initiative, beginning a new era in participatory, citizen-led democracy in the EU.
Such was the level of anticipation surrounding the ECI that European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, who is responsible for the ECI, said he expected to see the first initiatives registered within the first few days of the official launch.
"I've already been approached informally by several potential initiatives, and I know that citizens have been organising themselves in advance of the official launch in order to be ready on or around 1 April," he said.
The ECI offers citizens from across the EU a chance to put a particular issue onto the EU policy agenda if they can gather sufficient support from their fellow Europeans.
Initiatives can be proposed by a citizens' committee made up of individuals living in seven member states, and must be in an area where the European Commission has the power to act. If they fulfil these criteria, initiatives must then garner support from a million or more people in the EU, from at least seven member states, and fulfilling a minimum quota per country.
If they achieve this, and their signatures of support are validated by each Member State concerned, then the Commission has two months to decide whether to act on the initiative. The initiative will also be discussed at a public hearing held by the European Parliament.
The Commission's official website is the one-stop-shop for all information about the ECI, and the only place where initiatives can be registered. It also contains information about how to propose an ECI, which policy areas are covered, and how to gather support.
MEMO/12/235 European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)