ECAS Welcomes Timmermans’ Announcement to Revise the ECI Regulation
In a speech at the annual European Citizens´ Initiative Day (ECI Day) on 11 April 2017, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the Commission´s plans to revise the ECI Regulation this year. A public consultation will be launched before the summer which should culminate in a proposal to revise the ECI Regulation this year. This follows the continuous requests made by a number of civil society organisations, including ECAS, to make this instrument for participatory democracy fit for purpose.
ECAS´Advocacy to Revise the ECI
As part of its mission to empower citizens to exercise their rights in the EU and using its participation in the stakeholder group of the REFIT platform for Better Regulation, ECAS submitted an evidence-based opinion that was adopted by the REFIT platform in June 2016 and called for a thorough revision of the ECI Regulation. ECAS' opinion concretely called for a revision that addresses the main weaknesses identified in the ECI, namely the uncertain interpretation of the so-called “legal admissibility test”, the loose follow-up procedure to successful ECIs, the personal liability imposed on ECI organisers, and the complex system and short period allowed for the collection of signatures, which largely explain why of all the ECIs registered so far, only three have managed to reach the 1 million signature threshold.
Making the ECI More Accessible and Citizen-Friendly
ECAS welcomes the Commission´s commitment to the ECI as an instrument that enables citizens to engage more actively in EU policy-making. In Timmermans´ words, "I want to make the ECI more accessible and citizen-friendly. I want the ECI to become a popular and living instrument, one that citizens are familiar with”. Timmermans’ announcement is a welcome surprise after the Commission concluded a year ago that it was still “too early” to launch a legislative revision of the ECI Regulation in response to a European Parliament’s resolution on this instrument.
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