The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) would require the European Commission to respond to a proposed change in European law signed by at least one million EU citizens. This would enable European citizens and civil society organizations to directly influence the political agenda of the EU for the first time in history.
The idea of this campaign is to collect one million signatures of people from all over the European Union demanding the introduction of the ECI by the EU.
At the moment, there is no possibility for European citizens to initiate or to modify European legislation.
Why the Right of Initiative?
The European Civil Society states that the time has come for the European project to be driven by the people, and not only by an elite. They argue that when implemented, the ECI will be the first transnational tool of democracy. It will give citizens a right of initiative that is equivalent to that of the European Parliament, and much more effective than the current European citizens’ right of petition.
Being issue-focussed, the right of initiative will contribute to shaping an open European public space around key debates that reflect citizens’ real concerns. In other words, the ECI will not only help to close the gap between citizens and institutions, but also foster the development of European civil society.
The right of initiative can command very broad support in civil society, among political parties, and among the general public. It is very cheap, relatively acceptable to decision-makers and politically neutral, requiring no treaty change and no increase in the EU budget.
The European Civil Society argues that to open the door for other campaigns using ECI, the right of initiative must be introduced as a legally binding instrument. The institutions, however, are unlikely to introduce a strong regulation without further public pressure, so it is up to the citizens to demand its introduction.
Support through signatures, gathered all across Europe, will prove that European initiatives can work, and put the EU institutions under considerable pressure to respond positively. According to the European Civil Society network, the history of popular political movements shows that political rights as such can motivate and mobilise civil society, including young people.