"ECI must become a powerful tool for citizen participation"

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is intended to promote active citizenship and participatory democracy, and it has the potential to help overcome the EU's democratic deficit. It is also a tool that can unite Europeans around a cause and thus strengthen the sense of European identity. However, in order to achieve its full potential, it must be accompanied by dialogue and make an appropriate impact.

In its opinion on The European citizens' initiative, adopted on 14 March, the EESC makes some proposals on how this can be achieved:

  • appropriate follow-up measures for successful initiatives: It is particularly important for successful initiatives to be debated in plenary sessions of the European Parliament (EP), to give citizens' initiatives the necessary political dimension;
  • dialogue with ECI organisers needs to be stepped up, both during and after the campaign;
  • clear, transparent rules for the registration phase are needed;
  • the roles of institutional mentor and decision-maker at registration – both in the hands of the Commission – should be separated.

"The EESC sees its role as a facilitator and institutional mentor", said rapporteur Kinga Joó, who reiterated the EESC's willingness to further support initiatives.

The EESC has been involved since the beginning of the debate on the ECI. With its ECI Day – to be held on 10 April this year – the EESC has helped to keep the ECI high on the EU's institutional agenda and to raise its profile. (sma)