EU Institutions

European citizens' initiative

In line with the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon, on the 31st of March 2010 the European Commission presented a Proposal for a Regulation (http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/docs/com...) on the citizens' initiative at EU level. The EU Parliament and the Council are expected to adopt this document through the co-decision procedure.

According to the Treaty, at least a million EU citizens, originating in a significant number of Member States, may invite the European Commission to introduce a proposal of EU legislation in a certain area. This piece of legislation aims at increasing the involvement of European citizens in the elaboration of EU policies. It would also enlarge the wide palette of citizens’ rights, adding to the right to elect and to be elected in the European Parliament or to the right to address requests to EU institutions.

The debate related to the proposal for a Regulation took place within the EU Council during the 1st semester of 2010, an agreement being reached on the 14th of June 2010. (http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st11/st11099.en10.pdf)

During the negotiation process within the Council, Romania aimed at finding a balance between the initiative’s accessibility and the prevention of an abusive exercise of this right.

The Proposal for a Regulation, in the form agreed within the EU Council, established that the statements of support must come from at least a third of the Member States. According to the formula reached during the negotiations, which seeks proportionality to the number of MEPs, the minimum number of statements of support, in the case of Romania, is 24,750.

The minimum age for supporting an initiative is set as the age at which citizens are entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections, according to their relevant national legislation.  .

The collection of declarations of support is possible both in paper format and online, provided that the systems have security features that ensure both the verification and the protection of personal data. The deadline for collecting the statements of support for an initiative was agreed at twelve months starting from the date of its registration.

The European Commission can refuse to register an initiative without examining its admissibility, if it considers it inadequate, abusive or lacking substance. It can also reject it if it is openly against European values or it falls outside the framework of the Lisbon Treaty.  

Following a request coming from the originators of the initiative, the European Commission will decide on its admissibility after having collected 100,000 (out of the one million necessary) statements of support, coming from at least three Member States. The Commission would decide on the admissibility of an initiative within two months from receiving the request of the organizers.

A transition time was foreseen so that the Regulation would become fully applicable within twelve months of its entering into force. The Proposal for a Regulation also contains a review clause asking the Commission to issue a report within three years from the entering into force of the Regulation.  

Until its full application, the Member States have to identify the national authorities responsible with the certification of the systems of online collection of statements. The Member States also have to identify the national authorities that coordinate the verification of the citizens’ statements.

The debates on the draft Regulation, as it was agreed by the Council, will continue, within the European Parliament, during the 2nd semester of 2010. This subject is within the remit of the Committee for Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. Advisory opinions should be issued by the Committee for Petitions, the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee for Culture and Education and the Committee for Legal Affairs.

The EP’s debate agenda on the draft Regulation will close with the adoption of the report elaborated within AFCO on the 30th of November and the subsequent vote within the plenary session of the European Parliament on the 15th of December 2010.

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