Tuesday, 3 April 2012

European Citizens' Initiatives

If you ever feel that European institutions are not properly doing their job, since you have great ideas how to protect, e.g., consumer rights in the EU that are currently not reflected in the EU legal acts, well, your time has come.

This Sunday, on the 1st of April, a new project was launched by the European Commission: European Citizens' Initiative (it was not a prima aprilis joke) on the basis of the Regulation 211/2011 of 16 February 2011 on the citizens' initiative. Basically, this project allows EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies. Citizens may come together and approach the European Commission with a proposal for a new EU legislation. A website was made on which all the rules of this project are explained, and through which Citizens' Initiatives may be reported.

To begin with, a citizens' committee made up of at least seven EU citizens who resident in at least seven different EU Member States needs to register an initiative (in any of the official languages of the EU). The proposal must fall within the scope of the European Commission's authority to draft legislation and must not be manifestly contrary to the values of the EU. From the moment of registration, the committee has 12 months to collect statements of support for its initiative from at least seven Member States. The support from each Member State needs to be higher than 750 times the number of Members of the European Parliament for that Member State (one million citizens from at least 7 Member States are needed). Anyone of voting age for European Parliament elections can support an initiative (18, except for Austria - 16), either on paper or online. The number of statements of support needs to be certified by the competent authorities in the Member States.

The European Commission has three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it. The organisers will be able to explain their initiative in details at meetings with the EC, as well as at a public hearing at the European Parliament. The initiative will end with the publication of the Communication by the European Commission explaining what actions, if any, will be taken, and its reasoning. (Commission fires starting gun on European Citizens' Initiative)

FAQ may be found here.

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