ECI DAY 2016: Forging Change

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2016 is a key year for the future of the European Citizen Initiative.

 

The European Commission has decided to extend the reflection period thus postponing the decision to revise  the current regulation.

The European Citizen Initiative – once the flagship for a democratic and participative European Union – has proven to be an inadequate instrument so far.

56 ECIs have been submitted until today, 36 were registered.

Only three succeeded in getting 1 million signatures.

But none of them has seen  an effective follow-up which rather makes European citizens hesitating to start their own initiatives.

During the ECI day the European Economic and Social Committee focused on how to make the ECI as effective as possible and insisted that the rules should be simplified to demonstrate a genuine commitment from the European institutions towards involving European citizens in policy making.

Many people don't know about he ECI and I think that's the biggest problem.

People may not even know that this tool is existing, so the media has to be more involved.

[...] Of course, there is an awareness and people know about it but what it actually can mean, towards what it can lead, it is still, after four years, not that clear.

I'm here for the third time and I am preparing personally, you know, the initiative but I would like to know if it works, if it if has a perspective.

So it's up to the Commission to come up with proposals that we have experienced that they are unwilling to do so.

We are at a watershed moment for the credibility of the European institutions, generating a crisis in their relations to the public.

We urge the Commission to follow up with legislative proposals; this could be vital for the future of the Union.

If this disengagement continues along with ill-fated lines, it would undermine the entire European project built up over the last 70 years.

The European commission is actually not suited to deal with ECIs. I would say that they are not the competent authority.

 I get the message, and our supporters get the message, from the European commission that they do not listen to EU citizens.

The European commission needs to have some offer, perhaps, a reward to people who reach 1 million signatures in the form of a EU referendum for example, or a consensus conference or public jury. In other words, the European commission shouldn't simply say "No".

Let me emphasize that what we want to do is making this system work. What we count on very much is on your support, we count on your ideas.

We need you, we need your expertise and experience and we're looking forward to working with you, obviously today but over the course of the next few months.

And I'm sure the colleagues will come back to look again at the question of the regulation and whether it should be amended.

The European Citizens' Initiative is the ultimate flagship for a more bottom-up approach in the European Union.

It is a first step towards participatory democracy at EU-level and with an approach that pays no heed to borders it is also a major step towards cooperation between citizens from different Member States.

The European Economic and Social Committee and the participants at the ECI Day urged the Commission to provide all the help and instruments necessary to ensure the impact and success of European Citizens’ Initiatives.