Six months after the official launch of the European Citizens’ Initiative on April 1st 2012, the Green European Foundation presents an updated version of its successful user manual to this first transnational tool in modern direct democracy. The publication is authored by Bruno Kaufmann, president of Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe.
The European Citizens’ Initiative gives citizens the right to set the agenda of the European Union and establishes a truly multifunctional means of providing checks and balances for what happens in the EU. This Pocket Guide offers readers the knowledge and insights necessary to make effective use of this new instrument.
In the six months that passed from the launch of the ECI instrument, 25 European Citizens’ Initiatives have been filed. Of these, 14 were registered by the European Commission, while others were rejected or withdrawn. The main challenge these first initiatives faced was related to the establishing a functional Online Collection System of signatures. In order to support the first initiatives, the European Commission offered organisers free servers in Luxembourg and decided to postpone the official start for the collection of signatures to August 2012, to make up for these initial set-backs. Even so, to date, only one of fourteen registered ECI’s is able to collect signatures online.
With this new edition of the ECI Pocket Guide, updated with the latest news and links to further sources of information and support, GEF aims to assist ECI organisers in their difficult challenge of pioneering European participatory democracy.
This updated edition has been produced by GEF for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.
How to use this Pocket Guide?
The Pocket Guide is divided in 3 sections which address the following questions, respectively: how can you use the ECI? What are the requirements you have to fulfil to successfully complete an ECI? Where can you find assistance for your ECI?
The ECI KEYCHAIN helps organiser identify the most suitable approach to an ECI. It details the various goals that an ECI can serve, such as introducing new ideas on the European legislative agenda, stopping existing legislation or acting as a platform that mediates between different legislative approaches.
The ECI PATHFINDER is a manual to assist ECI organisers or potential signatories to find their way through the often lengthy and sometimes cumbersome procedure of an initiative. The manual develops the 10 step approach to a European Citizens’ Initiative, already detailed in GEF’s earlier publications: The European Citizens’ Initiative Handbook and the flyer 10 Steps to the European Citizens’ Initiative.
The ECI RESOURCE CENTRE provides a wealth of details on the constitutional foundations, legal statutes and procedural regulations of the ECI. This chapter has been completely updated.
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Successful pilot ECIs
GEF’s Campaign Handbook covered a number of successful ‘pilot ECIs’. These were efforts by NGOs and civil society groups to gather 1 million signatures in order to influence the EU’s agenda. They were inspired by the ECI, but took place before the ECI comes into effect on April 1st 2012.