MEPs vote to make the ECI easier to use, but leave it toothless

2015-10-29 News

In a plenary vote on 28 October, 527 Members of European Parliament approved the EP Report 2014/2257 on the ECI from Rapporteur György Schöpflin while 103 abstained and 33 voted against it. This unusually strong show of support for ECI reform sends a clear message to the Commission that the ECI Regulation 2011/211 must be revised.

The approved report includes all nine of The ECI Campaign’s recommendations to make the ECI easier for campaigners and citizens to use. This includes harmonising and reducing personal data requirements, simplifying the technical rules governing the online signature collection system, allowing the collection of emails, dropping the age of support to 16 and letting campaigns choose their own start date.

Unfortunately, none of our three recommendations to make the ECI more impactful or democratic were included in the approved report. An amendment from MEPs Goerens and Terricabras to allow ECIs that require treaty change was rejected as was an amendment from MEP Terricabras to require the Commission to respond to all successful ECIs with a legislative proposal. Unfortunately, an amendment from MEPs Schöpflin and Kaufmann only requiring the Commission to act on ECIs on which it has issued a favourable opinion was approved. More details on this in the German TV Documentation with English subtitles.

While we are grateful for the strong call to simplify the ECI, we deeply regret that the Parliament has declined at this time to give the ECI the power it needs to become a meaningful tool of participatory democracy.

In coming months, the Council will issue its own report on the ECI. The Commission will then decide whether or not to propose a reform of the ECI Regulation.

Rapporteur MEP György Schöpflin ended a post-plenary press conference by saying “I hope in six months that I’ll have good news on the ECI”. We do too!