AVAAZ support the ECI Campaign and launches petition for a usable citizens’ initiative

2010-11-25 News

Press Release by ECI Campaign, 25 November 2010


Citizens can bolster MEPs’ position in negotiations with Council to remove unnecessary barriers in new democratic tool allowing citizens to influence the EU policy agenda.

Brussels — The final details of the regulation to implement the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) are now being worked out in closed-door negotiations between the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and Commission. As set out in article 11.4 of the Lisbon Treaty, the ECI allows one million citizens from a significant number of EU Member States to ask the European Commission to propose new legislation.

Practically no one across Europe knows that these negotations are going on and many of those deciding on the details are scared of direct citizen participation and are lobbying to make the ECI hard to use.

At this critical moment, the global online advocacy community Avaaz has launched an online petition making it possible for ordinary citizens to impact these negotiations by calling for citizen-friendly implementing rules for the ECI.

The ECI Campaign, a coalition of 120 NGOs which has advocated for the ECI since its inception, is very pleased for the support and whole-heartedly welcomes this petition. According to ECI Campaign Director Carsten Berg “the ECI was never on Member States’ wish list. The only reason it entered the draft EU constitution (and later Lisbon Treaty) was through the active engagement and cooperation of citizens, NGOs and parliamentarians. In these critical final negotiations, the involvement of citizens is again desperately needed. The Avaaz petition makes this possible.”

In March, the European Commission proposed a very restrictive draft regulation to implement the ECI that would effectively make the tool unusable. Over the intervening months, the European Parliament has proposed multiple citizen-friendly amendments to make it much easier for citizens to launch an ECI, collect signatures and ensure a serious response from the European Commission to successful ECIs. However, several EU Member States have insisted on retaining some of the most restrictive clauses.

The success of the ECI depends on the approval of four key amendments to the regulation:

1. The removal of the requirement for ECI supporters in Member States to provide intrusive personal data, including ID card numbers.

2. The extension of the time allowed to collect signatures from 12 months to 18 months.

3. The reduction of the number of Member States for the signature quota from 1/3 to 1/5.

4. The requirement of a mandatory public hearing with Commission representatives for all successful ECIs.

The Avaaz petition will provide support for these amendments and help open the doors of the EU to the real democratic engagement of its citizens. Visit www.avaaz.org to learn more.