Polish Public Participation Experts Debate the ECI

December 12, 2015 News

The ECI Campaign and the Regionalny Ośrodek Debaty Międzynarodowej w Poznaniu organised a debate in Poznań, Poland on 11 December 2015 to explore the past, present and future of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Participants shared both the national Polish and European perspectives, as well as considered both theoretical and practical issues.

The discussion panel included political science professor Dr. Adam Jaskulski from Adam Mickiewicz University, Beata Nowak–Pietrzykowska from the Polish Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ewa Sufin–Jacquemart from the Green Zone Foundation and Paweł Głogowski from The ECI Campaign and was moderated by journalist Adam Kompowski from the newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”.

Dr Jaskulski emphasised the weak legal basis for the whole ECI instrument. It is only an agenda setting tool. Unfortunately, too many organisational requirements have hampered its ability to mobilise EU citizens.

Mrs. Beata Nowak – Pietrzykowska presented interesting statistical data on ECI signatures in Poland. Only four ECIs submitted signatures to the Polish authorities for verification. Shockingly, the vast majority of Polish ECI signatures were declared invalid. This was primarily due to the fact that they were collected after the deadline. She also admitted that the diversity of data requirements across the EU is complicated. Poland uses personal ID numbers (PESEL) to verify identity and addresses only as back-up.

Mrs. Ewa Sufin–Jacquemart talked about the STOP TTIP campaign. The European Commission did not register the initiative because it claimed that it did not fall under its competence to submit a proposal for a legal act. However, STOP TTIP organisers found these legal arguments disputable and continued the campaign as a “self-organised” ECI involving hundreds of NGOs from around the Europe.

Last but not least, Paweł Głogowski presented 12 ways to build an ECI that works and discussed the possible future of the ECI. Afterwards, speakers answered questions from the audience, which focused mostly on the organisational part of the ECI and the possible impact it has on European integration.