Institute für Europäische Politik, News 2

European Citizens’ Initiative launched: Great expectations – extensive scepticism

Since 1 April 2012 European citizens own a new right: the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). One million citizens have the right to invite the Commission to draft a proposal for a legal act that, in their point of view, should be managed by the Union. The IEP accompanies the establishment of this new instrument of participative democracy academically as part of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Despite the great expectation to contribute enormously to the reduction of the democracy deficit within the Union, the ECI is further accompanied by extensive scepticism from academia and civil society regarding its outcome. Two publications do not only give an overview of the process of the ECI but, moreover, discuss its limits and potentials.

  • The European Citizens’ Initiative: Possibilities and Limits of a new Element in the EU Decision-Making System

Rudolf Hrbek, Vice-president of the academic directorate of the IEP, assigns the ECI to former efforts to strengthen the role of European citizens, describes the genesis of the treaty article of the ECI and explains the technique of implementing an initiative in his article in issue 1/2012 of ‘integration’. Due to highly formalised and not at all user-friendly procedural rules and to the fact that established strong organisations rather than citizens will get involved, Hrbek, while discussing potentials and limits of the initiative, concludes that the direct outcome of ECI will rather be limited.

  • The European Citizens’ Initiative: Launching a New Period of Participative Democracy on EU-Level

However, in their discussion about the limits and potentials of the ECI, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, chairman of the Europa-Union Berlin and member of the board of trustees of Europa-Union Deutschland, and Julian Plottka, research associate at the IEP, emphasise the potential to develop the instrument of participative democracy in the forthcoming implementation of the new European citizens’ right. For that reason, they explicitly explain where progress in terms of user-friendliness has been achieved and where obstacles in practice have to be overcome in the EUD-konkret publication 1/2012 of the Europa-Union Deutschland.

The articles are available here