Get Help With Your European Citizens’ Initiative Idea: Benefit from Free Advice on Legal Issues, Campaigning and Fundraising from Top Experts in the Field
When the Regulation on the European Citizens' Initiative entered into force in 2012, both sceptics and supporters may have been musing whether the date, April 1, had been randomly selected.
Many millions of statements of support and eight years later, it is obvious that this opportunity for citizens to have a direct impact on EU policies is not an April Fool’s game. Ninety-six registration requests for initiatives have been submitted, seventy-two have been registered, and five initiatives have successfully collected over one million signatures each.
To support current and potential organisers, the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum provides tailor-made and independent advice in areas such as legal questions, campaigning, fundraising or on any other relevant topics.
In this article two of the experts behind the Seek Advice Section of this Forum describe the type of support organisers can count on.
The Commission can only register an initiative if it is in an area where it has the power to propose legislation. You may have an idea or you may be considering an Initiative for change in European legislation that you want to organise, but you may not know what the legal basis for that would be. You may also know that there is already some legislation in the area which is of concern to you, and which you would like to see changed.
This is where we – the European Citizen Action Service team of legal advisors - come in to help European Citizens’ Initiative organisers. We can examine whether what you're proposing is something that the Commission has actually the power to do. We will tell you if there is a legal basis for your initiative or we can advise you also on how to adapt the wording of your initiative, so that it will have more chances of success in terms of being registered with the Commission. Once you have submitted your question, we will examine also if there has already been an initiative on the same subject matter and if there is existing EU legislation on this topic. This will save you a lot of time.
Our advice is independent from the European Commission. It is personalised and tailored to your needs. The more concrete information about the intentions your enquiry contains, the more specific our advice will be.
Your requests are dealt with in full confidentiality. They will not be sent anywhere or shown to anybody. It's purely between you and the legal advisors.
Our advice is provided in all the European languages. You can ask your questions and you will get your reply in your language. We can provide this advice within five working days if your question is in English, but we may need up to eight working days if you ask your question in another language.
Once you have your legal questions answered, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive campaign strategy, and we’re here to help. The most important and most common types of advice we offer are how to search for alliance partners and how to build an effective communications strategy, but our advice is tailored to your needs and may cover any other aspect of your campaign.
Based on information that you provide in your request for assistance, we will assess where your initiative currently stands in the process, where there is room for improvement, and we will inform you of a few key points in order to build a solid foundation for your campaign, build your networks, your base of volunteers and your human and financial resources. We will also advise with the development of your communications strategy to help you identify target audiences, potential supporters, probable challenges, opponents and risks. Depending on the initiative’s topic, we may also suggest potential local, regional, national, and international outreach possibilities. Specific advice on your digital outreach could also be given, if needed. We may for example provide you with tips on how to improve your online presence, campaign’s website or your social media efforts.
No campaign plan is complete without a fundraising plan. Launching an EU-wide campaign to collect at least 1 million signatures is neither easy, nor cheap. A European Citizens’ Initiative can be launched on a shoestring budget, but resources need to be used in the best way possible in order to plan a budget, identify potential sources of funding, and co-share the financial burden with alliance partners.
We offer advice on how to best make use of supporters and partners, including human resources that contribute to initiative’s goals, and how to find small and large donors, such as foundations, individuals, partner organisations, or crowd funders. Fundraising itself includes a strong campaigning and communications strategy, and each initiative’s uniqueness is taken into account when creating your tailor-made advice.
We do not design your campaign for you, but we offer you expert advice, ideas, and guidance using our years of experience with the European Citizens’ Initiative. We warmly recommend reaching out for advice before you launch your initiative so that you can be as prepared as possible early in your European Citizens’ Initiative journey. So, don’t hesitate, get in touch now!
ContributorsAnna Nicolaou, Daniela Vancic
Anna Nicolaou is a lawyer specializing in EU citizens’ rights. She has more than 10 years of experience in providing personalised advice directly to citizens and SMEs on their EU rights.
Daniela Vanic is the European Programme Manager at Democracy International, an NGO that promotes stronger citizens’ participation in political decision making, with experience in the European Citizens’ Initiative since the tool’s inception. Daniela has four years of campaign- and network-building experience, and for the last three years, she has been carrying out the European campaigns of Democracy International. Daniela has worked extensively on the European Citizens’ Initiative, from offering campaigning and fundraising advise to organisers, to advocating for stronger implementation of the tool’s regulation, to making the tool more well-known to citizens
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