The ECI Watch is the newsletter of the ECI Support Centre. The ECI Support Centre is a joint initiative of the European Citizen Action Service, Democracy International, the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe and ClicknSign.
The ECI Day 2015 offered the chance to consider the future for the European Citizens’ Initiative and the necessary changes to make it an effective instrument in the light of two recent institutional reports, one from the European Commission and the other from the European Ombudsman.
The day provided the opportunity to get a variety of perspectives on the ECI, with panels split according to type of stakeholder, including ECI organisers, EU institutions, and civil society support services.
Speakers including First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly set out their vision for the future of the instrument. All participants were also able to contribute to the participatory workshops during the afternoon session and develop ideas for improving the ECI.
Campaign to save the European Citizens’ Initiative
Democracy International has launched a petition campaign to save the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). In the next months, the EU Commission and Parliament will decide on the future of the European Citizens’ Initiative. This presents a window of opportunity to call for a deep and meaningful improvement of this historic participation right.
With a Europe-wide petition targeting the EU Parliament and Commission, citizens have the opportunity to stand up for their right and call on Brussels’ politicians to take immediate action. The ECI must be made more accessible to citizens; the process must be more dynamic and efficient. And initiatives launched by citizens must have the same impact as initiatives from the EU Parliament.
The signatures will be handed over in September when the EU Parliament's constitutional committee decides on the future of the ECI. And the message will be delivered to the EU Commission in a public event, calling it to stand up for the citizens and EU democracy. The petition has already won 18.000 supporters; the next goal is to gather 20.000 signatures by Europe Day on 9 May. Please sign and help spread the petition.
Prominent supporters of the petition include Thomas Piketty, French economist and author of the bestseller "Capital in the Twenty-First Century", and Gesine Schwan, former President of the European University Viadrina and twice candidate for German Presidency. Moreover, Spanish MEP, Beatriz Becerra, has responded to the petition and promised to take up Democracy International’s demands in her parliamentary reporting on the ECI.
The organisers of the rejected ECI, ‘One Million Signatures for a “Europe of Solidarity”’, are taking the Commission to the European Court of Justice over its refusal to register their initiative. They will have their hearing at the Court on 5 May 2015 (Case T-450/12).
The organisers will ask the Court to annul the Commission’s rejection decision and order it to register their initiative. Their initiative proposed that the debt of countries in a “state of necessity” be cancelled. They will argue that the Commission was unjustified in deciding that their initiative was outside its competences. This will be the first rejected ECI to appeal the Commission's decision in court. However, a number of other initiatives are in line to do the same. You can read more about these upcoming cases here.
Reports and Recommendations
The conversation around the ECI has been given a boost recently by the release of a number of reports and recommendations from a variety of institutional actors. If you want to get a sense of the current state of the debate and the proposals being considered, the following resources are a good place to start.
These recommendations, of course, all surround the recent report from the European Commission on the application of the ECI. This report, while recognising many of the problems pointed out by other parties, including during the registration and collection phases, stopped short of announcing any concrete measures to remedy the situation.
The next obvious opportunity for the Commission to announce such concrete measures will come in its reply to the European Ombudsman’s inquiry. This reply is due by the 31 May 2015.
Updated ECI Knowledge Centre
The ECI Knowledge Centre has been updated and now tracks developments to the ECI right up to the present date. The platform now boasts over 250 resources allowing you to explore all aspects of the ECI. The resources come in many different formats, from academic articles to newspaper opinion pieces to infographics.