The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)
Since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 citizens were to have more opportunities to participate in EU decision-making. The treaty paved the way to a European Citizens' Initiative - a new form of public participation designed to increase citizens' direct involvement in EU policy shaping.
The treaty stipulates that any such initiative must be signed by at least one million EU citizens from no fewer than 7 EU Member States before the European Commission can be called upon to take legal action in any domain covered by the various EU treaties.
The rules and procedures governing citizens' initiatives were set out in an EU Regulation adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in February 2011.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believe that the ECI could prove to be a very useful and highly effective tool for citizens to voice their demands at EU level.
However, the ECI needs to be well designed if such initiatives are to result in success rather than end in frustration. Consequently, in the ECI procedure needs a balance needs to be struck between making it an accessible, practical tool and verifying each initiative's admissibility early on.
In practice this means that signatures should not be required from citizens in too many Member States, that the actual process of signing up to an initiative should be unbureaucratic, that ECIs should be given sufficient deadlines, and that they should be able to count on limited support from the European Commission, which ought to also evaluate initiatives before they are launched.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
Several of the Greens' demands were supported by a majority in Parliament.
A compromise reached by Parliament stipulated that signatories to ECIs would have to be collected in 7 EU Member States, rather than the 9 proposed in the Commission's draft.
It was also the Greens who proposed the creation of a citizens' committee to guide initiatives and it is thanks to our efforts that the Commission will indeed have to check any ECI before it is launched.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens did not succeed in securing a longer period for the collection of signatures. We had called for 18 months, given the complexity of setting up the required structures Europe-wide, but the Council and Commission insisted on no longer than 12 months.
We would also have preferred to have a single unified form for collecting signatories' data adopted across the EU, but ended up having to agree that the Member States would be left to determine which data are required.
The Commission and the Council also rejected our demand that citizens from the age of 16 upwards be included in the ECI process.
Procedure:Ordinary legislative procedure
Lead MEP:Zita Gurmai (S&D), Carlo Casini (EPP)
Green MEP responsible:Gerald Häfner
Staff contact:Guillaume Sellier (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?