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EU Commission blocks democratic reform

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EU Commission blocks democratic reform

06-04-2016

On Wednesday 6 April 2016, the organisations Democracy International, The ECI Campaign and Mehr Demokratie e.V. launched a petition to protest against the European Commission’s unwillingness to reform the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).

In October 2015 the alliance of democracy initiatives had handed over almost 76.400 signatures to the European Parliament calling for reform of the ECI. While the European Parliament adopted most of these reforms, the Commission now refuses to take the next steps for ECI improvement.

“The ECI is almost powerless”, reads the petition that is launching today to collect signatures right across Europe. “We urge the European Commission to change the ECI regulation immediately. People should have a say in important decisions affecting Europe. And in the long run, the ECI should be upgraded to allow citizens to vote in European referenda”, the petition states (see petition here).

The ECI entered into force on 1 April 2012. It is the only instrument that allows EU citizens to directly request the Commission to initiate new EU laws, given the collection of one million signatures from at least seven EU Member States. Since becoming operational, 32 ECIs have been registered. Only three initiatives (“Stop Vivisecion, One of us and Right2Water) collected the required signatures, while all others failed due to insufficient support or were withdrawn. Furthermore, the European Commission rejected 20 proposed ECIs from the start, amongst those the alliance “Stop TTIP”, which has subsequently appealed to the European Court of Justice against the rejected registration.  

Statement of Democracy International:
“The Commission refuses to make the ECI truly effective, blocking the European Parliament’s strong call for it”, says Sophie von Hatzfeldt of Democracy International. “Clearly the Commission sees the European Citizens’ Initiative as a fig leaf rather than a real commitment to EU democracy.”

Statement of The ECI Campaign:
"By refusing to reform the ECI, the Commission is telling citizens that it doesn’t trust them. Why then should citizens trust the EU? The smartest thing Commissioner Timmermans could now do to preserve the Union is to demonstrate trust in EU citizens and revise the ECI now!" says Carsten Berg, Director of The ECI Campaign.

Statement of Mehr Demokratie:
“A fair European Citizens’ Initiative is the first step toward a Europe of the citizens. Our long-term aim is that people in Europe can make binding decisions in important questions. For this we need a two-step procedure with citizens’ initiatives followed by Europe-wide referenda”, says Michael Efler of Mehr Demokratie e.V.

List of all ECIs that were registered by the EU Commission:
www.citizens-initiative.eu/eci/open-closed

Link to the petition: www.democracy-international.org/eci-final-call

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