Signs of hope for the ECI
There are some signs of hope that the ECI will become a usable democratic instrument for European citizens after the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and Council have come to their conclusions on ECI.
In preparing the ECI regulation, the Commission committed itself to consult the opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). Fortunately the EDPS shares the view of the ECI-Campaign that ID numbers should not be required when an individual signs an ECI.
“The EDPS takes the view that the mandatory information fields in the model form are all necessary for the purpose of organising the citizens’ initiative and securing the authenticity of the statements of support, except for the personal identification number.….The EDPS therefore recommends deleting this information field from the model form in Annex III.”
According to Carsten Berg, coordinator of the ECI-campaign, “this is a first sign of hope that the ECI will become a truly workable and accessible instrument for citizens. However, there is still a challenging birth process in front of us.”
The COREPER working group (Council of Ministers) has been intensively working on the ECI (see video from 26.4.10 + video from 14.6.2010 both General Affairs Council meeting) and negotiating with the Commission behind closed doors. It’s encouraging to see that many Member States agree with ECI-Campaign requests, especially to remove the ID number requirement, extend the time to collect signatures and reduce or eliminate the requirement to collect 300,000 signatures to trigger an admissibility check. However, we still have to analyse the whole document and then come to conclusions. For the moment, the only news is that Council prefers to have 100,000 signatures instead of 300,000 for the admissibility check, which still is much too high. More info will follow, for the moment see: Euractive article from 15.6.2010.
Today, 15 June 2010, also the Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee will meet the EU Ombudsman to debate the ECI. The European Parliament must come up with its own proposal and plans to vote on it in autumn.
Decisions made now on the detailed technicalities to implement the ECI will determine if the citizens’ initiative right really is workable. Now is the time to act and contact decision-makers in both the Parliament, Council and Commission.