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Ever since the European Union became more than an intergovernmental body where representatives from national governments used to 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 a nice idea: it has to become everyday practice.

So, when becoming active as an EU citizen and going transnational with your own idea/concern/proposal, please assess carefully the available participatory instruments in the toolbox first. Below you will find the most important ones to date.



If you are not happy with an EU-related measure you can lodge a formal complaint with the European Ombudsman, who offers 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.

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 turn to the SOLVIT problem-solving mechanism provided by the European Commission. This online service in 25 languages (EU languages and Norwegian) also 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.


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 (EU/EEA – EU languages , Norwegian and Icelandic).

Education and work

If you are looking for a job or education opportunities across Europe, there is a service in all EU official languages + Norwegian and Icelandic called EURES, the European Jobs Network, which offers tools both for jobseekers and employers (and in spring 2020 featured no fewer than 2.8 million vacancies and over 230,000 CVs).



When preparing a new policy or law, the European Commission very often launches a public consultation on the issue at stake. This is a great opportunity to make your voice heard in 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.

Indirect action

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



This is one of the fundamental rights of European citizens: any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise their 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.

Your petition may present 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.

European Citizens’ Initiative

It allows 1 million citizens from at least 7 EU Member States to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. The organisers of a citizens' initiative 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. Organisers of successful initiatives are then invited by the Commission for a meeting and by the European Parliament to a public hearing. The Commission has 6 months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.

Find out more! When considering a tool for action, please also try to assess the type of action you intend to undertake: do you want to get something new onto the EU agenda? Or, conversely, do you want to stop something? Maybe you are seeking to improve an existing task? 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 of becoming an active EU citizen but each of them requires thorough preparation and understanding of the main objectives.