Getting prepared for a new form of democracy!

2012-03-12 News

Less than three weeks left until the launch of the first real European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI) on April 1st all relevant stakeholders – citizens, institutions and media – are getting prepared for the start of the first transnational instrument of participatory democracy in world history. Please find an up-date on ECI related events, how to prepare an ECI Campaign and about some courageous citizens who are just about to run an ECI.

On 26 January 2012 the EU Commission has set up its new official website and register for the European Citizens’ Initiative. There you will find the official ECI guide by the Commission which is available in all 23 official EU languages.

Soon you will find more useful information there such as your official national contacts and information on the online collection system. The whole warming up event from January 26 has been webstreamed and can also be viewed afterwards. We especially recommend to watch the presentation by Mário Tenreiro from the Commission. He explains concretely how to register an ECI.

We also invite you to join the large ECI conference March 20. This  ECI event is organized by ECAS and Democracy International. At this meeting The ECI Campaign and its partners plan to present its results on the screening project about the implementation of ECI at national level, which refers to the certification of online collection systems, signature verification procedures and other important practical questions.

Want to organize your own ECI?

If you are serious about organising an ECI, you should calculate sufficient time to prepare your campaign. We advise you to consider the ECI check-list before you really decide to start your ECI campaign. As several ECI campaigns are already in preparation, some of them are looking for exchange with other ECI organizers in order to share infrastructure and costs for online collection system. For more information check the The ECI Campaigns Facebook-site.

Many potential ECI organizers are still exploring their resources and the practical feasibility. Other ECI organizers have already decided to go public. Potential ECIs include environmental issues such as: renewable energy and against atomic energy – the protection of water rights and against the privatisation of public water systems –  actions for the landscape convention. Social issues include ECIs for an unconditional basic income as well as an ECI for eliminating homelessness in the EU. Moreover the request to legalise gay marriage throughout the European Union . Educational issues include ECIs for a European education trust, and to make the EU exchange programs more attractive. Electoral issues: granting EU citizens residing in another Member States the right to vote. Consumer protection issues include ECIs for fair roaming, for a European transaction tax and for a free and open internet.

So far there have been five informal successful 1 million signature campaigns before the ECI regulation had officially entered into force. Check our ECI Handbook for more information on earlier campaigns. This refers to Stop Long Animal Transports,  the ELIANT action,  the Avaaz-Greenpeace GMO campaign, the One-Seat-Campaign and the 1million4disability campaign. Some are expected to re-launch their campaigns. However no informal ECI, not the One Seat, not the ELIANT action, not the GMOs has ever followed such STRICT signature collection and verification rules as are foreseen now. Even huge NGOs such as Greenpeace and Avaaz needed 9 months to collect 1 million signatures — under ideal conditions.  They did not collect sensitive data such as ID card numbers and their signatures were not verified by national ministries.