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European Citizens’ Initiative: Still Too Weak for Real Change

On 1 April 2013 the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) will have been in use for one year. For civil society organisations the date is not a reason to celebrate.

Democracy International, the Initiative and Referendum Institute (IRI Europe), the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) and several other groups throughout Europe had transformed an early input by the citizens’ network “eurotopia” in 1991 into a broad campaign that started at the beginning of the new millennium. The civil society organisations worked hard for the European Citizens’ Initiative to be included in in the Constitutional Treaty in 2003 and later the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The ECI came into practice on 1 April 2012, when the European Commission opened the official registry at http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative. The ECI requires one million signatures from at least seven EU Member States in order to be submitted to the European Commission, from which the signatures must be distributed proportionately according to size of population of these EU Member States.

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