Only a flexible and user-friendly ECI can inject more democracy into the EU

, by JEF Europe

Only a flexible and user-friendly ECI can inject more democracy into the EU

The Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) are mobilising all pro-democratic forces of their Europe-wide network to lobby the European Parliament and the Council in an effort to remove the unnecessary obstacles for launching a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) contained in the draft ECI Regulation as proposed by the Commission on 31st March 2010.

JEF-Europe President Philippe Adriaenssens explains:” JEF welcomes the ECI as a unique opportunity to breathe new life into European democracy and strengthen the participation of citizens in EU policy-making but it would be a terrible mistake to limit the potential of this innovative tool through inflexible and restrictive implementing rules. There is no threat that the ECI would be abused as the Treaty of Lisbon requires every ECI proposal to fall within the competences of the Commission and serve the implementation of the Treaties. But if a rigid Regulation renders the ECI practically unusable, the threat is real that it could repeatedly cause frustration with the EU Institutions, widening the gap between the EU and its citizens.

JEF-Europe has published its 4 key demands on calling on both MEPs and governments not to accept the national barriers, high entry thresholds, narrow time frame and insufficient legal and technical support,” Adriaenssens explains. JEF-Europe insists also on the necessity for the European Commission not to ignore or turn down a legally valid and successful ECI but transfer it to the European Parliament for the consideration of the MEPs. An arbitrary follow-up would not only work discouraging but also runs the risk of generating great disappointment with the EU among all signatories.

At this first stage in the co-decision procedure when both the European Parliament and the Council are discussing the draft ECI Regulation as proposed by the Commission on 31 March, JEF-Europe and its member sections are contacting political and NGO representatives of the 27 Member States to pressure the decision-makers not to the kill the ECI before it is born.

Adriaenssens affirms: ’’This is an exceptional chance for the EU to overcome the historically low-turn-out at the European Parliament elections of June 2009 and design an innovative instrument capable of bringing Europe closer to the citizens and the citizens closer to Europe. The final objective should be that no citizen could ever again complain they do not feel involved in EU decision-making. Hence the need of turning the ECI into a flexible and user-friendly tool.

Image: European Citizen’s Initiative, Source: Initiative for the European Citizen’s Initiative

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