The ECI Day 2014 – Learning From the First Two Years

2014-04-15 News

On 15 April 2014, the ECI Day 2014 took place in the offices of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels with nearly 200 participants. The ECI Campaign was one of the partners of the event, during which a wide range of ECI stakeholders summarised the first two years of the European Citizens’ Initiative and discussed its future.

Carsten Berg, general coordinator of The ECI Campaign – together with Henri Malosse, president of the EESC, Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, Anne-Marie Sigmund, president of the ECI ad hoc group in the EESC, and Bruno Kaufmann, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe – opened the discussion with a strong message to reduce barriers and increase the impact of the European Citizens’ Initiative.

The opening session was followed by practical workshops, during which various ECI organisers and e-campaigners, lawyers, Commission staff and independent IT experts discussed and explored solutions that should lead to a user-friendly and participatory ECI so that it can actually unfold its democratic potential. Carsten Berg chaired LAB 1, entitled “ECI campaigning and e-democracy”, during which diverse perspectives, suggestions and experiences were raised and described, such as how to use a bottom-up approach in campaigning, the real need of a helpdesk when handling the specialist ECI tool, the need to cut red tape, and arranging follow-up and feedback opportunities. In particular it was discussed how to transform the existing official online collections system (OCS) into a real campaigning tool. Paula Hannemann from – the world’s largest online petition platform – related her e-campaigning experience to the future of the ECI (click here for her presentation). She was followed by Stanislas Jourdan from the ECI for an Unconditional Basic Income and Xavier Dutoit who set up the online collection system for the ECI Right2Water (for his detailed view click here).

The conference was summed up during the closing session, where a wide range of stakeholders (European Commission, European Parliament, ECI organisers, NGOs, Committee of the Regions) agreed that the ECI needs major reform and changes, and that without wide cooperation this will not be possible.

During the ECI Day 2014, The ECI Campaign also presented its newest publication: “An ECI That Works.! Learning from the first two years of the European Citizens’ Initiative”. The book, which presents practical experiences and a number of suggestions from ECI organisers, people from the EU institutions, academics and NGOs, received a very positive feedback. (For our detailed analysis and recommendations for an ECI that works, click here).

For the detailed conference report click here.