The European Citizens‘ initiative is a way for EU citizens to influence and shape EU legislation. It allows citizens from different member states to suggest legal change in fields like environment, agriculture, energy, transport, and trade. The term initiative is a borrowing from French and derives from the Latin word initiāre.
To launch a European Citizens’ initiative, seven people being resident in at least seven different EU states have to form a citizens’ committee. The members need to be EU citizens and old enough to vote. In Malta and Austria, the voting age is 16, in Greece 17 and in the other EU countries 18. The subject of the initiative has to be EU-related and within a field where the European Commission has power to propose legislation. There are different steps to the initiative procedure.
The citizens’ committee needs to register in any of the 24 official EU languages. This includes giving basic information about the initiative, like the title, a short summary, a reference to the EU treaty and contact details of the organisers. Within two months, the European Commission reacts to the registration and informs about whether the initiative fulfils the conditions.
If it fulfils the conditions, the initiative is published in the online register and the organisers can start collecting signatures. They have one year to collect 1 million signatures from at least a quarter of the EU countries online or on paper. If the initiative is successful, the organisers will present their initiative to the European Commission and the European Parliament. After that, the European Commission will inform the organisers what action it intends to take. You can find successful initiatives here.
Another way to have a say in the decision-making in the EU are the European elections. Don’t forget to cast your vote this week between the 23rd and 26th of May. Sign in into thistimeimvoting.eu to learn more.
Basic facts – European Citizens’ Initiative – European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/basic-facts. Published January 4, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Commission E. European Citizens’ Initiative: what is it? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZW1MLajwUE. Published July 17, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019.
European citizens’ initiative . Citizens’ initiative. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/at-your-service/en/be-heard/citizen-s-initiative. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Homepage – European Citizens’ Initiative – European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome. Published January 4, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Successful initiatives – European Citizens’ Initiative – European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/successful/sort/desc. Published January 4, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.
The procedure step by step – European Citizens’ Initiative – European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/how-it-works. Published January 4, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.
This time I’m voting – European elections. This time I’m voting – European elections. https://www.thistimeimvoting.eu/. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.