European citizens would for the first time be able to directly suggest new
legislation through the European Citizens' Initiative, proposed in detail today
by the European Commission. An innovation contained in the Lisbon Treaty, it
will allow at least one million citizens from at least one third of EU Member
States to invite the European Commission to bring forward legislative proposals
in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.
"I'm very excited about the Citizens' Initiative, because it will
introduce a whole new form of participatory democracy to the EU," said
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and
Administration. "This is a real step forward in the democratic life of
the Union. It's a concrete example of bringing Europe closer to its citizens.
And it should foster a lively debate about what we are doing in Brussels. The
Commission will have to give serious consideration to requests made by
Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Citizenship Commissioner, said,
"The Citizens' Initiative can be a very important element for citizens
to make themselves heard. I welcome an instrument that will show that the EU is
serious about listening to its citizens' concerns. At the same time, we have
safeguards to ensure that any proposed initiative must respect our values and
be in conformity with our fundamental rights."
The proposal sets out how many signatures must be gathered from each
country, and suggests that the Commission examine whether the initiative is
admissible after 300,000 signatures have been gathered from three Member
States. It sets a time limit of one year to collect signatures and gives the
Commission four months to examine an initiative and decide how to act on
The proposal seeks to ensure that the procedures for launching a Citizens'
Initiative are simple, user-friendly and accessible to all, and should not be
too burdensome for national authorities.
The Commission hopes that the Council and Parliament will reach final
agreement on the European Citizens' Initiative before the end of this year, to
allow the first initiatives to be brought forward in 2011.
The European Commission spokesperson in the UK, Antonia Mochan is available
for interviews on the subject.