The ECI Campaign is an organization exclusively working for the successful introduction and implementation of the European Citizens’ Initiative right – the world’s first tool of participatory, transnational and digital democracy. We are independent, neutral in policy, non-profit and non-EU financed. Our work is carried by the invaluable input of volunteers, like-minded partners, donors and a small coordination team.
The ECI Campaign is nearly as old as the ECI instrument itself. It was launched in 2004 by engaged citizens, including those activists who had already successfully campaigned for the introduction of the ECI during the European Constitutional Convention in 2002/03. Since then the network has been gradually growing. Today, The ECI Campaign is a grassroots coalition of concerned citizens, pro-democracy activists and over 100 European NGOs dedicated to the creation and campaigner-friendly implementation of a European Citizens’ Initiative right. In 2015 the Association for the ECI e.V. has emerged out of The ECI Campaign and provides a legal base for its formal requirements.
The ECI Campaign is in constant exchange with finalized, ongoing and future ECIs, as well as with the institutional counterparts. Meanwhile, many organizers of the so far completed ECIs have joined The ECI Campaign. They, better than anyone else, know how often the ECI does not work and to what extent it needs urgent improvement. At the same time completed ECIs help us to provide the knowledge transfer and advice to future ECI organizers about how to successfully run an ECI.
We are determined to make the ECI a powerful new democratic instrument to involve citizens more directly in the way Europe is run. As individuals, we are powerless. When Europeans with shared concerns come together via the ECI, we can become an unstoppable force to help ensure that EU policies meet the needs of its residents.
An ECI instrument that is regularly used by citizens to propose new policy and share concerns is in the long-term best interest of EU institutions. An EU that keeps its citizens in the dark and excludes them from policy agenda setting cannot survive long-term. As Euro-scepticism, distrust of politicians and regional divisions continue to grow, the EU needs a working ECI more than ever. Early campaigns have shown how the ECI can bring citizens together across borders and demonstrate the value of EU policies in their daily lives. Rather than weakening the EU, the ECI has the potential to strengthen it.
Unfortunately, some EU and national officials have been reluctant to increase EU citizen involvement via the ECI. Specifically, they have insisted on excessively burdensome and bureaucratic rules that make the ECI simultaneously hard to use and toothless in impact. All ECI campaigns so far, whether run by well-resourced organisations or by volunteers on a shoestring budget, have faced similar barriers that stem from inherent weaknesses in the ECI regulation. Many procedures are unnecessarily bureaucratic and burdensome.
Since the early beginnings of the ECI in 2012, The ECI Campaign has organized a number of ECI conferences, workshops and exchanges between ECI organisers, campaigning experts and decision-makers at EU and national level. A radical simplification and harmonisation of the ECI regulation and related rules is a key result and demand of these debates. They are documented in our latest publication “An ECI That Works! Learning from the first two years of the European Citizens’ Initiative”. For our specific proposals on how to improve the ECI instrument click here.
Since 2015, the ECI’s governing rules are up for official review by the European institutions as prescribed by the ECI implementing regulation to take place every three years. The ECI Campaign is using this rare opportunity and campaigns for an effective revision of the ECI rules. Now is the perfect time to reform and to fine-tune recommendations based on the real-world experience of ECI organizers. We invite you to join and help us to make the ECI work so it will become an instrument by the citizens, of the citizens and for the citizens.
If you would like to contribute to our work and get involved in the campaign for a citizen-friendly ECI, please contact us.