The year 2019 marks a new step in the life of the European Citizens' Initiative. In March, the European Parliament voted on the final text of the new ECI Regulation, which proposes a series of administrative simplifications and procedural changes to make this tool more citizen-friendly and less burdensome for the organisers. ECI Day 2019 was the first to present you with the final text of the new Regulation and explored further how it was intended to benefit active citizens wishing to influence the EU's agenda. This year, the theme of the conference was Digital Voices, reflecting the ongoing changes in the global trends in voting and citizens' active participation. Digital natives no longer wait for elections to express their preferences; they voice their concerns at all times and at every opportunity. The ECI Day explored these new digital trends in the particular context of the European elections.
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Following the new European Commission proposal of September 2017, the European citizens' initiative has new wind in its sails. It now faces a lot of changes, many of which may greatly simplify administrative and organizational burdens. These changes will soon be discussed in the three-way consultations between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
The ECI DAY 2018 will seize the moment and offer a first-hand insight into the positions of the three legislators, represented respectively by the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the European Parliament general rapporteur György Schöpflin and the 2018 Council Presidency ministers / state secretaries from Bulgaria and Austria.
The ECI DAY 2017 focused on the individual involvement of citizens and their active role in policy shaping. It was organised in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Rome treaties, the first treaty to talk about European citizenship, in order to show all the positive developments of the concept and a number of new tools to involve citizens. The theme "I participate!" was to underline the importance of citizens' personal involvement in building up a comprehensive democratic system in the EU.
The ECI DAY serves as a meeting place and platform for the registered and future ECI organisers to meet and exchange information and experiences, and present their ECIs to the media.
The 2016 edition will focus on the ways of dealing with the identified difficulties, also to emphasize why the simplification of the rules is indispensable. The organisers will find out more about the help available, about what instruments are out there to maximize the impact of their initiatives. Finally, a broader context of participatory democracy in the EU will be drawn with information on the existing tools.
EESC's public hearing on the European Citizens Initiative in the context of the ongoing review process. Questions to be tackled: policy areas covered by the ECI and the validation process; the current political limits to participatory democracy on a European level; the role of the EU institutions and Member States in the process and a better defined support.