Thank you very much for getting in touch with me about the reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative, which was voted on this week in the European parliament.
As I am sure you are aware, our group has always fought for improving citizens’ participation. As Greens/EFA, we understand the concerns of NGOs with regards to the centralisation of the online signature collection tool, as pushed for by the Council, and the concomitant restrictions placed on the use of iOCS. Let me assure you that we fought to keep this possibility until the last negotiating session.
However, we must weigh this against the positive aspects. The current Regulation has a lot of shortcomings we cannot ignore and will be solved with this reform. In particular, we welcome that the new rules allow for partial registration of an ECI in cases where parts of it are ruled inadmissible; that signature verification procedures are being simplified to allow all EU citizens to sign an initiative; and, most importantly, that the new text explicitly mentions a mandatory follow-up by the European parliament, which will force the Commission to react to successful ECIs.
It is vital that the EU institutions follow up on these initiatives for the ECI to be an effective tool of participatory democracy that truly allows citizens to influence and shape policy-making. Without a legal requirement to demand such a follow up, it is too easy for the Commission to disregard successful initiatives and turn the ECI into a farce. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to the only four ECI’s that ever managed to collect the required one million signatures.
On the whole, I believe this reform is a step forward rather than a step back and I voted to support them. I would like to thank you again for getting in touch with me on this important issue.