European Citizens’ Initiative : Let’s really open the door ! - commentaires European Citizens' Initiative : Let's really open the door ! 2010-04-08T11:46:27Z 2010-04-08T11:46:27Z <p>I would first like to congratulate Pauline on the effort she has been putting into organising a JEF position on this issue. ECI is going to be a crucial instrument of democratic participation in the future of EU politics, and now is the time to make sure it gets adopted in as friendly a format as possible. She has emphasised two fundamental issues which, more than any others, will determine the success or irrelevance of this instrument : (i) the Commission's obligation (or absence thereof)to put forward a legislative proposal that has met all the formal requirements ; and (ii) the right of the organisers of an ECI to appeal its rejection before the Court. Even if the second issue is not explicitly addressed in the Regulation, the European Court will make its own determination on the basis of general principles, and the outlook there looks positive. The first issue, however, has been swept under the rug since the beggining. Interestingly, it was apparently the Parliament and the Council who had the most objections to a binding ECI - it would mean that the « people » would have a right of direct legislative initiative which neither institution has yet been granted (the monopoly of legislative initiative still rests with the Commission). We should be fighting to guarantee that, formally or informally, a commitment is made to propose any ECI which meets the formal requirements and which is not manifestly contrary to EU interests. Otherwise, there will be that much less motivation for civil society to get together and go through the extreme effort it will take to gather 1 million signatures, from a third of the Member States, etc. This being said, I believe we should also not be too demanding in the simplification of formal requirements, which can be counter-productive. As an example, while Pauline is probably right that some people will consider a request for a personal identity number and place of birth an intrusion upon their privacy, it should also be noted that this is an essential requisite to allow for a fraud prevention system (based on control by sampling), without which the validity of ECIs would be too easily questionable, thereby endangering their democratic legitimacy. If we want ECI to be more than an informal petition, we must accept that it be treated as a formal instrument, akin to the exercise of other political rights and, therefore, with similar identification requirements.</p>