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Background to the European Citizens' Initiative

The European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) is the culmination of efforts to place power within the hands of European citizens to propose EU legislation. The power to propose legislation currently lies solely with the Commission. The ECI will be a new way of passing down power vertically to create a new forum for legislative proposals, one that could be accessible for all European citizens.

The legal basis for the ECI is the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon. This document states the broad intentions of the Union over the following years. One such intention was to consider adopting legislative ideas coming from a significant proportion of citizens.

Article 11, Paragraph 4 of the Treaty of the European Union (Lisbon Treaty) states;

"Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the treaties."

It is now for the different institutions to come to an agreement over the specifics of this development.

On my part, I am aiming to make the ECI as citizen-friendly as possible. Greater participation in the European Union is far more likely if its citizens feel they have a stake in the legislative process. If the efforts of me and my colleagues are successful then we may soon see a European Union, in which mass support from citizens driving forward new articles of legislation.

The committees and bodies involved are currently deciding the details of the ECI.

Points which are yet to be decided include

- The amount of supporters/member states needed in order for an initiative to be considered by the commission.

- How citizens can form new initiatives, and how they should organise themselves.

- The time periods allowed for support to be gathered.

- What personal details will need to be declared for those signing an initiative

- What action (if any) should be taken on behalf of initiatives which are rejected by the Commission but are considered to be of significant value

I encourage you to get in touch with me if you have any suggestions for any of these points. You can email me at diana.wallis@europarl.europa.eu