86,703 of 200,000 signatures

to Frans Timmermans - First Vice President of the European Commission

Petition text

Ensure the reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) will transform it into a real, functioning democratic tool. In order to establish its legitimacy and engage citizens, we ask you to make the registration procedure less restrictive and simplify the requirements for signatories. Allow for proposals of changes to existing EU treaties and make sure the Commission submits a draft law within one year of each ECI which is adopted.

Why is this important?

With every petition we sign and deliver, we try to win a battle. But today, we can change the rules of the game.

In our fight for a better Europe, the WeMove community has tried many tactics to make our voices heard. Now, the strongest tool we have to make European politicians listen to our demands -- the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) -- is under review. This is a unique opportunity to make sure it becomes the most powerful resource we have to engage with European politics.

When, together with partners, we fought to ban the use of toxic pesticide glyphosate, we used the ECI to tip the balance. [1] It wasn’t easy collecting 1,3 million official signatures in a record 5 months, with all the bureaucratic hurdles, different procedures in 28 different countries. And the battle is ongoing to ensure the law actually changes. But we knew if we wanted change, this was the way to go. The potential of this tool is massive.

And we finally have a chance to fix it. The Commission is asking the public how to reform the ECI through an open consultation. [2] We have 24 hours left to flood them with demands for the changes we want: more democracy, less bureaucracy!

References:

[1]https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/eci-glyphosate-int

[2]http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/regulation-review

Photo by Marcello Vicidomini [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In partnership with:


Take part in the public consultation on the European Citizens’ Initiative


Only for the next few days, the Commission is holding an open consultation on the ECI and each one of us can have our say on the future of the Citizens’ Initiative. If thousands of us take part, we can help shape the ECI into a powerful, user-friendly tool: for citizens, by citizens. We need you on board: will you add your voice to this crucial consultation process?
To make it as simple as possible for you to participate in the public consultation, we teamed up with other organisations who are fighting for direct democracy to provide you with suggested responses that will produce an ECI that is simplified, more accessible and less restrictive for Europeans. Here’s how to participate:

How to fill in the form?

  • Press the "Fill in the consultation" button below to go to the consultation page
  • You can change the language on the right-hand side.
  • Fill out the questionnaire. You can use our suggested answers to guide you through the questions! You can find our detailed recommendations below. Simply click on the title of each sections to see the details.
  • Submit the answers until August 16th latest.


Here are the suggested replies to the consultation:

The replies in this section are mandatory but up to you to complete. Please fill out this section at your discretion.

Questions Suggested answers
Have you ever signed a European citizens' initiative (filled in the required statement of support form)?  Up to you
Why?  Up to you
What would make you support a European citizens' initiative?  Up to you
Have you ever organised a European citizens' initiative/collected statements of support for an initiative?  Up to you
For which initiative?  Up to you
Do you consider that the European citizens' initiative has so far achieved its objective of fostering the participation of citizens in the democratic life of the EU and bringing the EU closer to the citizens? Rather disagree
In your view, how important are the following considerations when revising the rules for the European citizens' initiative?  

a) Signing an initiative should be as simple as possible (statements of support should be collected in a user-friendly way and the personal data requested should be kept to the minimum needed).

Very important

b) The rules and procedures for organising an initiative should not be burdensome and should remain proportionate to the nature of the tool (a tool for citizen participation which does not lead to a binding outcome).

Very important

c) Citizens' initiatives should be launched only on issues relevant to citizens in a significant number of member states.

Neither important nor unimportant

d) Citizens' initiatives should foster debate and interactions between like-minded citizens across the EU as well as between themselves and the EU institutions.

Neither important nor unimportant

e) The rules for giving support to an initiative should allow the use of the best available technology in terms of security and user-friendliness.

Very important

f) Other. Please specify:

In reference to sub-question d), citizens’ initiatives should also foster transnational debate between both like-mind and different-minded citizens

 

Questions Suggested answers
In accordance with the Regulation, the Commission has established a point of contact which provides information and assistance to organisers. Do you consider that the provision of information and assistance to organisers in this phase should be strengthened?

Strongly agree

Assistance to organisers in the preparatory phase should be provided by:

The Commission through its point of contact ('helpdesk')

Independent expert(s)

In your opinion, what would be the best way(s) to limit the liability of organisers? Reduce the amount of personal data collected from signatories
Do you have any other suggestions for improving this preparatory phase/the citizens' committee?

In a reference to the above question regarding limiting the liability of organisers: citizens’ committees of an ECI should within the regulation be defined as a legal body of EU-lawmaking, and the organiser can therefore not be held individually liable.

 

Questions Suggested answers
Should the registration phase continue to include an admissibility check to verify that the proposed initiative does not fall outside the Commission’s powers? No

Should the legal assessment indicate that the proposed initiative partly or fully falls outside the Commission's powers:

Organisers should have the possibility to redraft their proposed initiative so that it falls within the Commission's powers, on the basis of a preliminary assessment by the Commission. They could then collect statements of support on the basis of the redrafted initiative, once legally cleared.

In order to redraft their proposed initiative, the organisers should have the possibility to be assisted by:

Independent expert(s), for instance through an online collaborative platform

An officer within the Commission with an independent and impartial role for the European citizens' initiative ('hearing officer')I

Do you have any other suggestions for improving the registration phase?

-----

 

Questions Suggested answers

Online collection

 

The hosting of online collection systems exceptionally offered by the Commission should be:

Made permanent and simplified (transformed into an online collection platform readily available for organisers upon registration, without the need for a certification) while still remaining optional.

To which extent do you agree on the importance of using new solutions for electronic identification such as eID or electronic signature for supporting initiatives?

Don't know

Would these electronic identification solutions make the online collection more user-friendly for citizens and organisers?

Yes, to some extent

To which extent do you agree that several ways for providing support to an initiative online (filling the form online, using eID, using other e-identification solutions) should be available in parallel in order to maximise the user-friendliness of the tool?

Strongly agree

Collection in paper form

 

In the case of a single online platform to gather support, how should the collection of statements of support in paper form be organised?

Organisers should collect statements in paper form and send them to the competent national authorities for verification at the end of the collection period. At the same time, they should have the possibility to record the number of statements collected in paper form on the online platform during the collection process.

Requirements for signatories

 

In your view, should EU citizens residing outside the EU be allowed to support a European citizens' initiative?

Yes

In your view, what should be the minimum age to give support to an initiative?

 

It should be harmonised at 16. 

Personal data to be provided by signatories and subsequent verification process

 

In your view, what should be verified in relation to the signatories' personal data? Please keep in mind that a citizens' initiative is a tool for citizen participation which does not lead to a binding outcome.

 

a) that data is not entered by a robot and that the overall probability of having entered fake data is below predetermined thresholds (based on data analysis techniques)

Yes

b) that a person corresponding to the data provided exists

Yes

c) that the person is eligible to support a citizens' initiative (old enough and EU citizen)

Yes

d) that the person has provided his/her own data (that he/she did not introduce someone else's data fraudulently)

Yes

e) that this person has not supported an initiative more than once.

Yes

f) other. Please specify:

 

Which types of personal data do you think citizens would not be willing to provide when giving support to a European citizens' initiative? How does this vary between member states? 

Name at birth, place of birth, personal identification (document) number, driving license number, the last three digits of your personal identification (document) number / driving license number, email address 

The current Regulation sets out different data requirements for signatories depending on the member states (see above). Among the following options, which one do you think would be the most user-friendly?

Requiring the same set of personal data in all member states. Then signatories may be contacted to provide additional personal data depending on the country they come from, for verification purposes.

According to you, who needs to have access to the signatories' personal data?

Organisers or other persons acting on their behalf who collect the statements of support and the public authorities in charge of their verification

Should signatories be kept informed about the initiative they have signed and its follow-up, for example by email?

Yes, by the organisers.

Yes, by the Commission.

Signatories should have the option to receive general information about the European citizens' initiative, including on other initiatives they might be interested in.

 

Time limit for the collection period

 

Should the time limit for collecting statements of support (12 months from the date of registration) be revised?

No

In your view, how should the time limit be changed?

It should be possible for the organisers to choose the start date of their collection within a given time period.

Do you have any other suggestions for improving the process of collection of statements of support and their verification?

Support external organisations that have stronger expertise in online campaigning, like We Move Europe

 

Questions Suggested answers

Do you think that there should be a time limit for the submission of a successful initiative to the Commission?

Yes

In your view, what should be this time limit?

Between six months and one year from the end of the collection

According to you, what would be the best way(s) to ensure that stakeholders representing different views are heard before the Commission replies to the initiative?

The public hearing in the Parliament should ensure that different views are represented by inviting various stakeholders to speak, in addition to the organisers.

The Commission should be given more time before its reply so that it can consult widely and transparently (for example by organising an open public consultation).

Should the European Parliament and the Council be invited to express their views before the Commission takes position on a successful initiative?

Yes

Do you have any other suggestions for improving the examination procedure and the possible follow-up to initiatives that have reached the required number of signatories?

The Commission should make the most concrete, detailed communication possible in its follow-up to initiatives that reach the required number of signatories. This gives the organiser the opportunity to concretely follow-up with their political campaigns and have a political debate with facts and figures provided by the Commission. E.g., in an environmental protection initiative which the Commission does not approve because of the argument of high costs, the Commission should sufficiently explain its reasoning including concrete financial facts.

 

Questions Suggested answers

What more could be done to better inform citizens and communicate on the European citizens' initiative?

The issue of low awareness of the ECI itself is a core problem. The Commission should publish a regular ECI newsletter for organisers, signatories and interested citizens with information about ECIs in a particular field or milestones that ECIs reach. E.g., the newsletter could feature ECIs that have 100,000 more signatures to go in order to boost the likelihood of an ECI’s success and to recognise the efforts of organisers. Recognising the milestones that organisers reach will increase the likelihood that citizens start an ECI. An ECI newsletter would help grow a distribution list of those who are in principle interested in European politics and would therefore help build a constructive European public sphere. 

 

If you wish to add further comments or suggestions on the European citizens' initiative, you can do this in the final part of the consultation form.

Next step - spread the word

Thank you for taking action!

If this is your first action with us, you might receive a thank you email asking you to confirm your email address. You need to click 'confirm' for your action to count.

Do you know anyone who would feel strongly about direct democracy in Europe, and would like to support this campaign with their voice? Share this on Facebook or Twitter, or send them an email asking to sign the petition!

Please can you chip in?

To stay independent, we are very careful about who we accept money from - but impactful campaigns need funding, so we need your help!

Can you donate just a few euros to help our community continue working for a truly democratic European Union?