The reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative is approved

2019. 03. 13.

Press release of MEP György Schöpflin

Today, the European Parliament’s plenary voted in favour of the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) reform with big majority (535 in favour, 90 against, 41 abstained), sealing the first reading agreement with Council and Commission. “This is a major breakthrough for democracy. Having an impact on what the EU does has become a key issue for citizens and it is also a priority for the EU to be closer to its own citizens. The new ECI regulation will help to bridge this gap” – Fidesz MEP György Schöpflin said.

The ECI was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and has existed since 2011, but only two have been successful, basically because the old regulation was inflexible and clumsy. The new regulation makes things much easier. Many of the changes are technical, more user-friendly online collaborative platform, transparency of funds, up-to-date information through ECI contact points. 

“Politically what is a pivotal achievement is that these technicalities make the ECI more accessible to organisers, there is a clear life-cycle, 16 year olds can sign if member states’ constitutions let them and it strengthens the European Parliament’s political commitment with the possibility to hold hearings and plenary debates about initiatives” – the EPP Group MEP emphasised.

The ECI does not change Commission’s monopoly of launching legislation, that would need a Treaty change, but it does nudge the institution in the right direction. Citizens are better off thanks to these changes, which will be in force from 1st January 2020.