European Commission - Press release
Successful conference brings European Citizens' Initiatives a step closer
Brussels, 26 January 2012 – More than 400 people today packed into a conference that marks a key stage in final preparations for European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs). Speakers include European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for ECIs, Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen, MEPs closely involved with the instrument and senior representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dailymotion.
The conference, taking place in Brussels, is called 'Warming up for the European Citizens' Initiative'. The aim is not just to bring together key players involved in using the ECI and making it work, but also to mark the official launch of the Commission website used to register requests, and to showcase the free open source software that citizens can use to collect signatures online.
In addition, participants will learn how the procedure will work in practice, how Member States will implement this new tool, and the potentially central role of social media in relation to ECIs. They will also discuss the important follow-up process once an initiative has attracted the necessary support of one million signatories from at least seven Member States.
Vice-President Šefčovič said: "This new right will open a new chapter in the democratic life of the EU. Not only will it provide a direct gateway for citizens to make their voices heard in Brussels, it will also encourage real cross-border debates about EU issues.
"I am also convinced that social media will play an important role in encouraging support for initiatives in the four corners of the EU. So I am delighted that they are so well represented today.
"The overwhelming interest in this conference augurs well for the success of this new tool. I wish the best of luck to those who are gearing up to propose an initiative from the beginning of April."
High officials from Member States' administrations and the Commission, as well as the President of the Economic and Social Committee, Staffan Nilsson, and the President of the Committee of the Regions, Mercedes Bresso, are also participating in the event.
The ECI was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. It will allow 1 million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to bring forward proposals for legal acts in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.
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, will have one year to collect the necessary statements of support. 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 Regulation governing European Citizens' Initiatives was adopted on 16 February 2011. However, at the request of Member States who needed time to put mechanisms in place for certifying statements of support, citizens will only be able to launch ECIs as from 1 April 2012.
Link to newly launched ECI website:
Link to ECI Regulation:
Please note that in accordance with the Regulation, European Citizens' Initiatives cannot be launched before 1 April 2012.
How will the European citizens' initiative work?