Press Conference, European Commission, Justice and citizens rights
To mark European Citizens' Initiative Day 2013, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will deliver an opening speech at a conference organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The aim of the conference, on 9 April at the EESC headquarters, is to assess the first year of ECIs, garner the experiences of organisers and start preparing for the future review. The conference will be attended not only by decision-makers and experts, but also by the actual organisers of ongoing initiatives. The opening session will be followed at 11.00 by a press conference with Vice-President Šefčovič and EESC President Staffan Nilsson. Throughout the day, journalists can meet ECI organisers, learn about their causes and the stories behind them.
The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Implementing legislation was adopted on 16 February 2011, although the Member States asked for a delay in application until 1 April 2012, to give them time to make the necessary administrative preparations at national level.
The organisers of an ECI, a citizens' committee composed of at least seven EU citizens who are resident in at least seven different Member States, have one year to collect the necessary statements of support after registering their initiative. The deadline for the first group of ECIs is 1 November 2013, so signature collection is still ongoing. The number of statements of support has to be certified by the competent authorities in the Member States. The Commission will then have three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.
The Commission will give serious consideration to requests made by citizens and, before taking any decision, it will receive the organisers to allow them to explain in detail the matters raised by the citizens' initiative. The organisers will also have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing organised at the European Parliament. If ultimately the Commission decides not to act, it will clearly explain its reasons in an official Communication.
11.00 Joint press conference by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and EESC President Staffan Nilsson at EESC headquarters: rue Belliard 99, 1040 Brussels.