Citizens' initiative - You can set the agenda!
© Yuri Arcurs - Fotolia.com
When the citizens' initiative kicks off on 1 April 2012, citizens will be able to participate directly in EU policy-making. One million signatories from at least seven member states are needed in order to invite the Commission to propose an EU legal act.
"With the citizens' initiative we open a whole new chapter in European democracy," said Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen at a press conference in Brussels on 28 March. "When one million citizens express their wish for particular action to be taken, it will be noticed. And the press and the public and we as politicians will have to respond to it."
In order to launch an initiative, you must set up a citizens' committee of at least seven people living in at least seven different member states. Then register your initiative with the Commission, in any of the official languages of the Union. The proposed initiative must fall within the scope of the Commission's powers to make proposals and must not be manifestly contrary to the values of the EU.
Signatures can be collected on paper and/or online. To be eligible to sign up, you must be a citizen of the European Union and old enough to vote in the European Parliament elections.
After the validity of the signatures has been confirmed, you will be invited to explain your initiative in detail to the Commission and to present it at a public hearing organised at the European Parliament. The Commission will inform you of the action it intends to take, if any, and of its reasons either way.
The citizens' initiative is based on the Lisbon Treaty.
European citizens' initiative - official register
Danish Presidency website on the launch of the initiative
Regulation on the citizens' initiative (full text in pdf)