A few reflections on the Commission’ survey for an ECI online platform

2017-04-22 News, Opinion

A new online platform on ECI is currently under planning. So far it is expected to provide tailor-made advice and information for organisers and activists, and the EU commission, who has started this pilote project following a recommendation of the European Parliament,  is right now examining what exactly should be the working fields for the future platform. Everybody can contribute to the commission´s survey which will be open until 23rd April.  https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/ECI_platform

Heike Aghte member of The ECI Campaign has answered the survey but when she did so, she felt slightly uncomfortable with it as she felt that a core question was missing: Who should run the future platform? Read her comment below.

After all, the platform is expected to be a “one-stop-shop” offering guidance on tricky issues like the legal admissibility of an ECI and other internal discussions around concrete (planned) ECI, plus the search for partners, advice in campaigning, and IT issues. These fields cannot be covered by institutional bodies like the EU commission, and so the aim of a one-stop-shop could not be reached. But NGO – and some of them are already busy on the aspects mentioned – might be appropriate managers.

Secondly, there are conflicts of interest within the Commission. The EP and the EESC have already pointed to this saying: “that the clear conflict of interest within the Commission be resolved by separating the roles of institutional mentor and judge.” (from EESC review “The European Citizen´s Initiative”, 1.4.5) and: “(…) the European Parliament would like to see further examination of the conflict of interest within the Commission, which is obliged to inform the organisers and make an assessment on the admissibility of the initiative, while also being the recipient of that same initiative.” (European Parliament Research Service, Implementation of the European Citizens´ Initiative. The experience of the first three years, 2015, Chapter 3.1.4)As advice on the legal admissibility of planned ECIs will be among the most important aspects to be covered by the new platform on the ECI, this would even increase the problems mentioned.

And so, I added some personal comments to the questionnaire, giving my reasons and suggesting that the new platform should be set up in a bottom-up approach, with NGOs and citizen experts as main actors, then with the involvement of the EESC which has already been very supportive, and with the financial and organisational backing by the commission. The commission will definitely be a very important partner for discussions and exchange of knowledge, too. But the main responsible actors should come from outside the EU commission.

Should you like to share your thoughts on how a new platform for the ECI should look like, do not hesitate to tell the commission what you think. SG-ECI-CONFERENCE@ec.europa.eu   And let us know, too.

21.4.2017 / Heike Aghte