Citizens' Initiative
The aim of this page is to give an overview on the legislative process leading to the adoption of the Regulation on the European Citizens' Initiative, in which I took part as a rapporteur of the European Parliament. For the detailed rules concerning the operation of the initiatives please consult the official website of the European Commission.
The legal framework of Citizens' Initiative was created by the Lisbon Treaty. For the first time in the EU's history, the European citizens have the opportunity to initiate the creation of an EU law, within the competences of the European Union, if they consider a common European action necessary.
The relevant articles of the Treaty of Lisbon only stipulate that not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States are required to take the initiative of inviting the European Commission to submit the proposal of the legal act. The European citizens, however, can only put this new tool, one of the most significant innovations of the Lisbon Treaty, in pratice, after the regulation on the rules of implementation of the ECI has been adopted and entered into force. As a rapporteur of the draft regulation, I am particularly proud of the fact that the legislative work has been carried out in less than one year, which is considered a very short time by EU standards. The aim of this site is to present the main stages of this process. Should you recquire further information, please follow the links listed below.
After the Lisbon Treaty was signed, but even before it entered into force, the European Parliament drew up a report in which the European Commission was invited to table a proposal with the detailed rules of implementation as soon as possible. In this report the Parliament also put forth its point of view on the major issues.
Once the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, the European Commission launched a public consultation process to gather the views of non-governmental organisations. The consultation ended on 31 January 2010 and the results were published in a Green Paper on the basis of which the Commission tabled its proposal on 31 March 2010.
In accordance with the rules of the ordinary legislative procedure, the Commission's proposal was forwarded simultaneously to the two co-legislators: the European Parliament and the Council.
In the European Parliament the Committee on Constitutional Affairs was assigned the task of drafting up a report on the ECI. The committee elected two of its members to be co-rapporteurs of the issue: Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) and myself.
In our report we had to clarify a number of controversial questions. In some cases it proved particularly difficult to find the 'right' answer. Here are some examples of the most contentious issues:
  1. From how many Member States must the signatories come?
  2. Should there be a new common European minimum age limit for the signatories, or Member States can decide on thier own regulation?
  3. Should it be possible to collect signitures via the Internet?
  4. What should be the time limit for the collection of signatures?
  5. Should the EU provide any technical or financial help to the organisers? If so, how and where should the money come from?
Of course, during our work several other questions were raised.
The political groups in the European Parliment (for example us, the S&D Group and the Greens) held several conferences and public hearings so as to involve citizens and experts in the creation of regulations that can moblize European citizens to take part in cross-border, European debates.
As a Member of the European Parliament, my task is to respresent the European citiziens. For this reason I consulted numerous NGOs and I tried to incorporate their suggestions into the regulation.
As the result of this work, the report on the European Citizens' Initiative was presented to the Constitutional Affairs Committee in November, where it received an almost unanimous support from the members of the committee. After the consultations with the Council, the final approval was granted in the December session of the Parliament.
The regulation was formally adopted by the Council in February 2011, and was signed on 16th February 2011 in Strasbourg. In accordance with the Regulation, European Citizens' Initiatives can be launched since 1 April 2012.
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