What is the ECI?
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) gives EU citizens the opportunity to directly participate and contribute towards the formulation of EU policies by presenting proposals to the European Commission. As it stands, the European Commission is the only EU institution that can propose legislation. The European Citizens’ Initiative grants EU citizens the same rights as the European Parliament and the European Council in relation to putting forward proposals to the Commission, the purpose of which is to strengthen direct democracy between EU citizens and Institutions.
For an Initiative to be put forward to the Commission, it has to have the backing and support of at least one million EU citizens, who need to be from a minimum of 7 of the 28 EU Member States. Any EU citizen of voting age and eligible to vote in European Parliament elections can be the organiser of an Initiative. A “citizens committee” must be formed to launch a Citizens’ Initiative.
The First Successful ECI – Right2Water
The first successful Initiative was officially received by the European Commission in December 2013. This initiative, Right2Water, is a campaign based on the idea that ‘water is a public good, not a commodity’. The organisers of the campaign want the Commission to legislate for access to clean water and quality sanitation to be seen as a human right which has been recognised by the United Nations. Furthermore, they want legislation for the provision for water and sanitation to be seen as a public service for all. This initiative passed the minimum threshold by receiving more than 1,857,605 signatures from EU citizens in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. The onus is now on the Commission to invite the organisers of the Initiative to explain the campaign in more detail at a public hearing in the European Parliament within the next three months. Following this hearing, the Commission must act on this Citizens’ Initiative by either adopting legislation, achieving some of the aims of the Initiative through other methods or not going forward with the initiative at all. The Commission will be required to explain the reasoning behind its decision through a formal response. This response will take the form of a communication that will be formally adopted by the College of Commissioners and published in all official EU languages.
Other ECI’s Currently Collecting Signatures
- ACT 4 Growth (www.act4growth.org/)
ACT 4 Growth aims to develop female entrepreneurship and support sustainable growth in Europe through four policy proposals: create an office of European Women’s Business Ownership within the Ministry of Economy; appoint a Women’s Enterprise Director; collect data, produce annual policy and research updates; and enforce current gender equality legislation. ACT 4 Growth’s deadline for signatures is 10 June 2014. There are no published numbers yet available on collected signatures.
- European Free Vaping Initiative (www.efvi.eu/)
The European Free Vaping Initiative is a campaign demanding that electronic cigarettes and related products be classified as general purpose recreational products through legislation, regardless of their nicotine content. This campaign reject the classification of electronic cigarettes as medicinal, tobacco or any other kind of product as this, the organisers say, would limit or impair access to and use of electronic cigarettes and related products. This Initiative has until 25 November 2014 to collect the required number of statements of support. There are no published numbers yet available on collected signatures.
- European Initiative for Media Pluralism (www.mediainitiative.eu/)
This ECI aims to ensure that all EU citizens have the right to independent and pluralistic media information by campaigning for rules to enforce transparency and guaranteed media independence from political influence; legislation to prevent concentration of media and advertisement ownership; and a definition of conflict of interests to prevent abuses of power in media ownership. The European Initiative for Media Pluralism’s deadline to collect one million signatures is 19 August 2014. They had originally collected 11,211 collected signatures by 31 July 2013 but then re-registered and started the signature collection process afresh.
- Invest in Education (invest-in-education.eu/)
The Invest in Education Initiative aims to combat inequality by providing equal opportunities for young people in Europe through education and training. The organisers are working ensure that the proper infrastructure and tools for high-quality education are in place in Europe especially in times of crisis. This ECI has until 6 August 2014 to collect one million signatures. There is no published numbers on signatures collected up to now.
- Teach for Youth – Upgrade to Erasmus 2.0 (teachforyouth.wix.com/teachforyouth)
Teach for Youth wants high-achieving and motivated recent EU college graduates and postgraduates to help eradicate educational inequity within the EU by teaching in low-income and high-need communities throughout the EU for a set period of time. The number of collected signatures has not been published. Teach for Youth has until 17 June 2014 to collect signatures of support.
- Weed Like to Talk (weedliketotalk.wix.com/wltt)
Weed Like to Talk is a Citizens’ Initiative campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis in the EU and a common European policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale. This Initiative has until 20 November 2014 to collect the required number of statements of support. There are no published numbers yet available on collected signatures.
To learn more about current ECI’s, click here.
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