The “European Citizens´ Initiative” in a Nutshell
The right of a citizens initiative’s was introduced by the revised Treaty on the European Union in 2009(Article 11 paragraph 4).
Regulation 211/2011 sets out the requirements and procedures to submit a citizens’ initiative.
Since 1 April 2012, one of the key features of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Citizen´s Initiative, is in operation. EU citizens are able to influence European legislation and launch their own proposals in any area of EU law which is within the EU´s competence. This is the first transnational direct-democratic right in the world.
Steps to a successful European Citizens´ Initiative
1) To start a citizens’ initiative, a citizens’ committee must be set up made up of at least 7 EU citizens each from different Member States.
2) They can then register the citizens’ initiative with the European Commission. The Commission has two months time to check whether the ECI is formally correct and then register it.
3) The registration is the start for the process of collecting one million signatures within 12 months. The signatures must come from at least 7 Member States; in each member state, there are a specific number of signatures that must be attained according to the country in which they are collected. Gathering can be done online and offline.
4) 365 days later, the organisers must have gathered at least 1 million signatures and submit them to the national authorities for verification. The authorities have 3 months to complete the verification process.
5) The organisers collect the verification documents from the different national authorities and send them to the European commission.
6) If the organisers succeed to have more than 1 million verified signatures the commission must consider the ECI within 3 months.
While the Commission is not bound to act upon the proposal, it is required that they give it serious consideration. In many cases the Commission will decide to proceed with the proposal and following the usual legislative procedure, it could become law within 2 to 3 years.
The first Citizen´s Initiative was registered from 1 April 2012 and this was the very first day the right to do so went into force. So, it is still something totally new – nobody has experienced the whole procedure so far.
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