EU Commission Launches Public Consultation on the ECI – Join the ECI Revision Process Now! A unique opportunity to enhance democracy in the EU

2017-05-24 News

The Commission unveiled the first next steps in its promise to reform the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) regulation framework. The ECI Campaign strongly encourages all civil society organisations – and in particular ECI organisers – to take part in the process.

On May 24th the Commission has launched an open public consultation to gather views on the revision of the Regulation on the European Citizens’ Initiative. You can reply until August 16th 2017 and submit your contribution by replying to the online questionnaire. A phsyical meeting and conference as was the case with the ECI Greenbook Consultation in 2010 is not planed so far. Translations of the consultation texts into all official EU languages are expected to be provided the latest by June 12th.

Already on May 19th the European Commission (EC) has published the general roadmap for the revision of the European Citizens Initiative. The ECI Campaign welcomes that the EU Commission is delivering on EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans’ recent promise to update the ECI regulation.

In the roadmap, the Commission acknowledges the urgency of this revision. “The ECI has not reached its full potential to foster citizen participation and democratic debate. The current form of the ECI Regulation is considered to be overly restrictive and burdensome for the ECI organisers and signatories.” the document (pdf) reads. “In case no policy action is taken, the ECI tool risks being used less and less by citizens and ultimately becoming obsolete.”

The Commission already mentions many ideas and solutions to “increase democratic legitimacy” which we have identified over the past years, however not all yet. In particular, the Commission highlights the need to address those issues:

  • Lack of clarity and transparency at the registration stage and the high rate of refusals or partial registrations of the proposed ECIs,
  • The divergences between and the level of signatories’ data requirements in the different Member States, (resulting in complexity, administrative cost for Member States and the risk of excluding some groups of citizens)
  • The personal liability of citizens who set up ECIs, combined with the lack of legal personality of the citizens’ committees, act as a deterrent to the setting up of ECIs in view of the heavy responsibility for the collected data,
  • Several issues related to the ECI’s lifecycle timeline, and most notably, the link between the date of registration and the start of the 12 months collection period, shortening the collection period in practice,
  • Several aspects of the online collection process, especially the need for the organisers to themselves set up and obtain the certification by national authorities of the online collection systems,
  • The examination of and follow-up given to the initiatives having successfully collected the required support.

How to take part

For this revision to be successful, it is of upmost importance that all stakeholders and citizens who have experienced organising or signing an ECI take part in the consultation.

In a first step all citizens and organizations can provide a general feedback to the ECI Revision Roadmap with max. 4000 characters by registering via this link. If you have research or findings that support your ideas, you can add them as an attachment. (The files must be less than 5 MB). Feedback on the roadmap can be provided until June 15th.

What however will be more important is your participation in the open public consultation which is gathering your views on the revision of the Regulation on the European Citizens’ Initiative. You can reply until 16/08/2017. Translations of the consultation texts are expected to be provided the latest by June 12th.

PLEASE spread this unique opportunity to reform the ECI and encourage as many citizens as possible in your organization and community to participate in this revision phase to save the ECI!

Proposals provided by The ECI Campaign on how to improve the ECI:

12 ways to build an ECI that works!

An ECI that works – learning from the first 2 years with the ECI

Picture credit: Creative Commons kd bug