Key points discussed:
- This year's ECI Day once again gathered together the main players in the ECI, at both the level of the EU institutions (European Economic and Social Committee, European Parliament, European Commission, European Ombudsman, Council presidencies) and of the civil society partners (European Citizen Action Service, The ECI Campaign, Democracy International and many others). The attendees reiterated their support for the ECI and the urgent need for a new, simplified and more citizen-friendly regulation.
- The European Commission announced the launch of an online collaborative platform to provide information and support to current and potential ECI organisers
- The European Commission's "Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European citizens' initiative", adopted in September 2017, was at the centre of the discussion during the conference. Although participants appreciated the technical improvements proposed by the European Commission, most of them regretted the lack of focus on the most political aspects of the ECI and in particular the follow-up to successful ECIs.
- The European Commission has recently passed legislation related to the demands of two successful ECIs (Right2Water and Ban Glyphosate); however, the measures proposed by the Commission were generally considered not adequate by the ECI organisers, institutions and other stakeholders.
- There was general agreement that the ECI is an important instrument for the democratic participation of EU citizens, but it needs to be drastically improved. The most problematic points are the insufficient follow-up by the Commission and other EU institutions, the scant attention given to unsuccessful ECIs and the lack of awareness among the general population about the ECI. It was frequently noted that the ECI is currently an agenda-setting tool, not an instrument of participatory democracy. It was argued that greater focus on the role of the Member States was needed, as well as greater involvement of the European Council.