European Citizens’ Initiatives: overview
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European Citizens’ Initiatives: overview



Presentation by PROVIDUS researcher Dace Akule in conference "EU Fundamental Rights Charter and the Role of Civil Society in Facilitating Fundamental Rights", organised by Latvian Centre for Human ...

Presentation by PROVIDUS researcher Dace Akule in conference "EU Fundamental Rights Charter and the Role of Civil Society in Facilitating Fundamental Rights", organised by Latvian Centre for Human Rights in co-operation with Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Riga on 27, 28 November, 2012.
Further information:

PROVIDUS pētnieces Daces Akules prezentācija konferencē "Eiropas Savienības Pamattiesību harta un pilsoniskās sabiedrības loma pamattiesību veicināšanā", ko organizēja Latvijas Cilvēktiesību centrs sadarbībā ar Lietuvas Cilvēktiesību uzraudzības institūtu 2012.gada 27.-28.novembrī.
Plašāka informācija apr konferenci:



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European Citizens’ Initiatives: overview European Citizens’ Initiatives: overview Presentation Transcript

  • 5 European Citizens’Initiatives: overview Dace Akule, Policy researcher, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS
  • What is European Citizens’ Initiative?First tool of direct trans-national democracy allowing 1 million EU citizens topropose EU legislation in specific fields.• Lisbon treaty Article 11 (December 2009) and Regulation (April 2012)• Organizers – citizens’ committee consisting of at least 7 EU citizens-residents of7 different EU member states – send their initiative to the Commission explainingits objective and purpose, providing information about organizers• Commission has 2 months to evaluate, if treaties give the Commission the rightto submit a proposal for EU legislation in this area; whether the initiative is not“manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and manifestly contrary to EU’svalues”• If the initiative passes this test, it is registered, and the collection of citizens’signatures can start. Organizers have 12 months to collect at least 1 millionsignatures from at least 7 EU member states• If the initiative does not pass this test, the organizers receive an explanationfrom the Commission about the reasons for refusal, as well as information on theways to appeal this decision
  • What is European Citizens’ Initiative?• Signatories are EU citizens eligible to participate in European Parliamentelections (18 years in Latvia, 16 years in Austria)• The collection of signatures can take place in paper format and online• Responsible national institutions have 3 months to verify the statements ofsupport to check if these persons are EU citizens and are eligible, issuingcertificates on the number of supporters from the respective member state• Commission has 3 months to examine the initiative in more detail by invitingorganizers to a meeting and – together with the European Parliament –organizing a public hearing on the initiative• In total, after 20 months since initiators wrote to the Commission, it has todecide whether to submit the initiative in a form of a legislative proposal ofamendments to existing EU legislation• If no, the Commission has to explain the legal and political reasons• If yes, the normal EU legislative process starts – impact assessment, publicconsultation with stakeholders, discussions with European Parliament (EUvoters’ interests) and Council of Ministers (member states’ national interests))
  • First attempted and successful ECIs• This tool became available in most member states in April 2012 (inLatvia the national legislation was amended in October 2012)• 14 initiatives are registered and collection of signatures is ongoing• 7 initiatives were refused registration, with Commissions’explanations on the reasons for refusal• 1 initiative was withdrawn by the organizers
  • ECI: Fraternity 2020 - Mobility. Progress. Europe.Enhancing EU exchange programs like Erasmus or the EuropeanVoluntary Service in order to contribute to a united Europe based onsolidarity among citizens. More funds and effective use of funds forexchange programs, increased efforts to develop intercultural skills ofparticipants (language classes and classes about the host country straditions, history, etc), better monitoring of progress via statisticaltools of Eurostat and Eurobarometer.
  • ECI: Single communication tariff actIntroducing one unique all-inclusive, monthly flat-rate communicationtariff within the boundaries of the EU, thus ending roaming chargesacross Europe to complete the European common market for allmobile phone customers.
  • ECI: Right to waterImplementing the human right to water and sanitation and promotingthe provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all.EU should increase its efforts to achieve universal access to water andsanitation, with EU legislation requiring governments to ensure andprovide all citizens with sufficient and clean drinking water andsanitation, and excluding liberalization of water supply andmanagement of water resources.
  • ECI: One of usBanning and ending the financing of activities which presupposethe destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas ofresearch, development aid and public health.
  • ECI: Let me voteStrengthening the right of EU citizens residing in another memberstate to vote in all political elections in their country of residence onthe same conditions as the nationals of that state, thus enhancing theconcept of European Citizenship, facilitating the freedom of movementwithin the EU and remedying the loss of voting rights presentlyexperience by a significant number of EU citizens who are long-termresidents of other member states.
  • ECI: Stop vivisectionCancel existing legislation (directive 2010/63/EU) and proposing newEU legislation aimed at phasing out animal experiments due to ethnicalobjections and scientific principles that invalidate the " animal mode"for predicting human response. Introducing a compulsory use of datadirectly relevant for the human species in biomedical and toxicologicalresearch.
  • ECI: High quality education for allEstablishing a multi-stakeholder discussion or collaborationplatform where parents, teachers, students, socialpartners, educators and decision-makers will propose, debateand formulate a European policy for a quality, pluralistic and EU2020-oriented education model at primary and secondary levelfor all Europeans. Establishing a roadmap to implement themodel, possibly culminating in a European Baccalaureate.
  • ECI: For a responsible management ofwaste, against incinerationIntroducing a legislation requiring a responsible management of wastein all the EU based on 7 principles: increased sorting of waste, banningover-packing, obliging the use of recyclable packaging, banning theburning of waste, obligation to introduce technologies for wastemanagement without negative effects on environment and health.
  • ECI: Suspension of the EU climate and energypackageSuspending the 2009 EU climate and energy package (excluding energyefficiency clauses) and further climate regulation until a climateagreement is signed by major CO2 emitters - China, USA, and India.Stopping EU climate policy wasting resources on ineffective unilateralaction at a time of economic crisis. Stopping carbon leakage - export ofjobs and businesses to developing countries without climatelegislation. Making fuel and energy cheaper, increasing employmentand reducing fuel poverty. Increasing energy security by allowingmember states to use their own natural energy resources.
  • ECI: End ecocide in Europe: a citizens initiative togive the Earth rightsAdopting legislation to prohibit, prevent and pre-emptEcocide, the extensive damage, destruction or loss of ecosystemsby criminalizing ecocide (responsibility of both natural and legalpersons), prohibiting and preventing ecocide on Europeanterritories and maritime territories falling under EUlegislation, under the responsibility of EU registered legalpersons or EU nationals.
  • ECI: European Initiative for Media PluralismProtecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of nationalrules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest withpolitical office and independence of media supervisory bodies.Amending Audiovisual Media Services Directive aiming at introducingharmonized rules with regard to the protection of media pluralism asnecessary step towards the correct functioning of the internalmarket, meeting the public interest objective of maintaining a pluralistdemocratic debate through free exchange of ideas and information inthe EU.
  • ECI: Central public online collection platform for theEuropean Citizen InitiativeEnabling all European citizens to participate in the Europeanpolitics by providing an Online European Initiatives Platform forthe registration of new initiatives and the collection ofsignatures, showing an overview of all initiatives, allowinginitiators to get in touch with supporters to discuss and arguenew ideas, and showing at what state each of the initiativeis, who is in charge of the next step until a final decision is made.
  • ECI: 30km/h - making the streets liveable!Introducing a 30km/h EU wide default speed limit for urban/residential areas, with local authorities having the right to set otherspeed limits if they can show how environmental and safety needs ofthe most vulnerable road users are met. Lower speed limit wouldreduce injuries and fatalities, noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions,and improve the traffic flow. People will be able to travel with less fear,environmentally friendlier modes of transport will become moreattractive.
  • ECI: Canceling free movement of persons principlewith SwitzerlandTerminating the agreement between the Swiss Confederationand the EU on free movement of persons due to breach ofcontract by the Swiss Confederation and the Member States aswell as for lack of jurisdiction to ensure legal protection for EUcitizens or companies. Switzerland should not be allowed toparticipate in EU single market as it treats EU citizens fromEastern Europe as second class citizens.
  • Refused initiative: My voice against nuclear powerPhasing out nuclear power plants in the EU and developingrenewable energy sources to substitute nuclear material andfossil fuel use (Austria).Commission explains that ECIs can not address Euratom treaty;the Commission has no right to modify or repeal treaties (this isthe right of member states). Moreover, the goal of EuratomTreaty is to develop nuclear industries, thus the initiative is“manifestly contrary to the objectives of this treaty". Theorganizers are currently examining with the Commission whetherthe initiative could be readmitted with amendments.
  • Refused initiative: Singing the European Anthemin EsperantoCommission explains that the Commission has no right topropose a legislation on this issue as treaty includes an overallobjective to contribute to the flowering of the cultures ofmember states."Up to the present, it would appear that no Member state hasmade the promotion of Esperanto part of its cultural heritagepolicies nor can it be considered to be part of a common culturalheritage".
  • Refused initiative: EU citizenship after secessionCitizen participation in decision-making on the collectivesovereignty - to ensure that citizens of a new state resulting fromthe secession of a part of an EU member state still remain EUcitizens (Spain).Commission explains that in such cases solutions are negotiatedwithin the international legal system, and there is no legal basisfor EU legislation to address consequences of secession of a partof a member state.
  • Refused initiative: Abolition of bullfightingAbolition of bullfighting in Europe and the use of bulls incelebrations of cruelty and torture for fun (Spain).Commission cites a verdict by the Court of Justice saying thatanimal welfare is not part of the objectives of EU treaties, thusnot providing legal basis for EU legislation in this area.
  • Refused initiative: European public bankCreation of a European public bank focusing on social andecological issues, and solidarity (France) - allowing member statesto borrow funds at low interest rates.Commission explains that there is no legal base for EU legislationto address this initiative.
  • Refused initiatives: Solidarity, basic income• One million signatures for "A Europe of solidarity" (Greece),crisis-related.• Unconditional Basic Income to improve the workingenvironment to protect workers health and safety, and endinequality between men and women with regard to labor marketopportunities and treatment at work (Germany).Commission explains that this area is excluded fromharmonization of rights and regulations of member states, onlyexchange of information and learning.
  • Withdrawn ECI: Dairy Cow WelfareImproving the welfare of 23 million dairy cows in the EU byguaranteeing a minimum standard to enable improvements as seenwith legislation for pigs and poultry. The legislation should be based onEU welfare quality principles - good housing, good health, good feedingand appropriate behavior.The organizers withdrew the initiative due to problems with ECI inpractice (no free software to start the online collection ofsignatures, data protection issues for the paper statements ofsupport), planning to resubmit the initiative once ECI is a more effectivemechanism, allowing to collect 1 million signatures safely or atreasonable costs for organizers.
  • First lessons: technical problemsAlthough the Commission provides free open-source software to createsystems for the online collection of signatures, organizers were not able tostart the process because they could not find a host provider. This wassolved by allowing first initiatives to host their systems on the servers ofthe Commission and helping organizers to get their systems certified bythe responsible institution in Luxembourg . 11 organizers have agreedwith this solution, with initiative Fraternite2020 already having startedsince October the collection of signatures online due to this support.Initiative Right to Water managed to find a private host, collectingsignatures online since September.As this delayed the process, the Commission has announced that it willgive all registered initiatives time until November 2013 to collectsignatures. In addition, ECI focuses on further support for ECIs. Idea tocreate a website where ECIs can be piloted and tested in advance.
  • First lessons: technical problemsThe first two best prepared, funded and professionally conductedECIs have collected approximately 50,000 signatures (5% of theneeded amount).Adequacy of the support for ECI organizers?Use of internet and the sophistication of online services. Proposalto establish a European citizenship card allowing citizens to signECIs online reassured that their personal data is protected. Use ofinternet banking, e-signatures not popular.Regulation on ECI to be reconsidered in 2015.
  • First lessons: knowing EU treatiesWe live, we learn about EU competencies, EU treaties, EU decision-making.The sky is the limit to our creativity, but ECI is based on EU treaties -Commissions right to propose legislation in areas of EU competence.No changing of existing treaties (one seat for EuropeanParliament, stopping of accession negotiations with Turkey), noinitiatives in areas outside of EU competence (pensions) or areas wherethe Commission does not have the right to propose legislation (foreignand security policy).Very good that the Commission looks not only at the legal basis (treatyarticles) that organizers have quoted as allegedly appropriate, but alsoother legal basis that it could imagine as addressing the respectiveinitiative.
  • First lessons: communicationPan-European dimension of the issue that allows EU citizens to identifywith, and readiness to work in a transnational environment.In the worst case the initiative is only available in one language, andthere is no website (yet) or the website is translated with Googletranslate. In the best case 22 languages, with very informative anduser-friendly (attractive) website. Some organizers publish their private(gmail, hotmail, yahoo) e-mails, others have dedicated e-mail domains(e.g. of ECIs dont include a draft legal act for potential submissionto the Commission, only an explanation about the idea
  • First lessons: funding and strategyFunds acknowledged (on ECI website) for one initiative start from 0Euro to 150,000 Euro. According to ECAS, each signature requiresapproximately 1 Euro, so 1 million signatures = 1 million Euro. Questionof transnational giving and tax relief schemes to encourage fundraising.Readiness of organizers to work from Day 1 or hope for a miracle in 12months? "Organizers seems to have been taken by surprise and hadneither the necessary knowledge, funding or strategy in place when thesignature gathering clock started to tick," Bruno KaufmannBottom-up citizens initiatives vs. professional citizens initiatives(lobbies, well-established associations)? Developing of new civil societyamong trans-nationally networked individuals and without structuresad budgets. Citizen as a rightful agenda-setter.
  • Resources"European Citizens Initiatives - a firstassessment", ECAS, Euronews development, November 2012"ECI 1.01. Training Camp Report. Brief assessment of the firstseven months of the emerging European Citizens Initiativepractice", Bruno Kauffmann, November 2012Commission website campaign website
  • Thank you!