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Ever since the European Union became more than just another intergovernmental body where representatives from national governments gather to make decisions behind closed doors, proposals for participatory tools have been put forward, practical mechanisms have been introduced and existing ones revised to make active EU citizenship and participatory democracy at the transnational level more than just a nice idea but rather an everyday practice.

So, when becoming active as an EU citizen and going transnational with your own idea/concern/proposal, it is first necessary to make a careful assessment of the participatory instruments in the toolbox. Below you will find the most important ones to date.

Complaint

Complaint

If you are not happy with an EU-related measure, you can lodge a formal complaint with the European Ombudsman, which provides an online form in the 24 official Treaty languages. It is important to note that this channel is open not only to EU citizens but to all residents across the European Union including businesses, associations and other bodies registered within the EU.

Ombudsman

Advice on problems

If, as an EU citizen or business, you face obstacles in another country because a public authority is not doing what is required under EU law, then you can approach the SOLVIT problem-solving mechanism provided by the European Commission. This online service is available in 24 languages and handles problems with a cross-border element that have occurred due to the improper application of EU law by public authorities within the EU Member States.

Solvit
Advice on problems
Consumer power

Consumer power

For example, if you have a problem with your rights as a consumer or are seeking compensation for damages, you should approach the European Consumer Centres network to address issues of faulty products or services in any of the 30 relevant countries (EU28 plus Norway and Iceland).

Education and work

If you are looking for a job or education opportunities across Europe, there is a service available in all official languages called EURES, the European Jobs Network, which offers tools both for jobseekers and employers. In autumn 2016, EURES featured no less than 1.17 million vacancies and more than 276,000 CVs.

Education and work
Consultations

Consultations

When preparing a new policy or a policy change, the European Commission very often launches a public consultation on the issue at stake. This is a great opportunity to get your input into the official process at an early stage. You can register to be notified when a consultation regarding an issue of interest to you is launched.

Interactions

In addition to formal channels, all EU institutions, bodies and agencies are now using social media to inform, consult, discuss and interact with interested EU citizens and others. For an overview of available channels, visit:

Interactions
Indirect action

Indirect action

There are several EU institutions designed to help you as a citizen make your voice heard at the EU level. These institutions include the European Parliament (and your Member of the European Parliament), the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. For an overview, visit:

In addition, indirect public action is of course also available through civil society organisations or political parties at the local, regional and national level that deal with EU-related issues.

Petition

This is one of the fundamental rights of European citizens: any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise his or her right of petition to the European Parliament under Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is important to note that this right includes all residents of the EU as well as associations and companies with headquarters within the Union.

The petition may constitute an individual request, a complaint or observation concerning the application of EU law or an appeal to the European Parliament to adopt a position on a specific matter.

Petition
European Citizens’ Initiative

European Citizens’ Initiative

The European Citizens’ Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of the EU Member States (currently seven) to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. The organisers of a citizens’ initiative – a citizens’ committee made up of seven EU citizens, resident in at least seven different Member States – have one year to gather the necessary support.

Signatures must be certified by the competent authorities in each Member State and can be collected online (specific conditions apply). Organisers of successful initiatives will participate in a hearing at the European Parliament. Once the 12-month collection period is over, the Commission will have three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.

Find out more! When considering a tool for your action, also try to assess the type of action you intend to undertake: do you want to get something new onto the EU agenda? Or, on the contrary, do you want to stop something? Perhaps you intend to improve an existing role? Or, alternatively, why not use one of the tools as a bargaining chip complementing other forms of action you are involved in? As you can see, there are many ways to become an active EU citizen but each of them requires thorough preparation and understanding of the main objectives.